The Quinonez name is synonymous with success in the early days of Canterbury Park. Jockey Luis Quinonez won the riding title five times here, from 1995 to 1999. He is sixth in all-time wins at the track with 548. This season his younger brother Alonso Quinonez is carrying on that tradition of success.
“My brother did so well here,” Alonso said. “That opened a lot of doors for me because they already know him and my entire family. So that makes it a lot easier for me but of course I’ve got to get the job done.”
And that he has.
Alonso did not arrive with only a connection to the past. He came with legit credentials, even if he was an unknown quantity to many of the trainers that make Shakopee their summer home. This is a multiple graded stakes winning rider. A veteran of the game. Alonso has won 11 graded stakes in a career that began in 2006. That includes five Grade 1s . He had an incredible journey aboard a filly names Intangaroo in 2008 winning the G1 Santa Monica, G1 Humana Distaff and G1 Ballerina, eventually finishing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint that fall.
Last Wednesday Alonso had a mount in the $100,000 Minnesota Oaks aboard Hotasapistol. The Oaks was dominated by brother Luis from ’95 – ’97 and again in ’99. It did, but maybe should not have, come as a surprise to many bettors when Hotasapistol won the Oaks and paid $22.60. The ride was a masterpiece of patience. In four days of racing, Alonso had won 10 races including the MTA Sales Graduate Futurity.
“He’s in the zone,” jockey agent Richard Grunder, who sees jockeys in the same light as any athlete, said. “The only sport I ever played was basketball. If you shoot from the outside and you have confidence, it goes in. If you hesitate, it’s an air ball.” Alonso is not shooting air balls. He had a difficult 2019 but now is back in the groove. “His confidence is up,” Grunder said. “He can ride with any of them.”
Luis had a certain flair about him. A cool confidence. He exuded class and grace in interactions with owners and trainers. Everyone wanted Luis to ride for them. Alonso has that same panache. And if you don’t want Alonso to ride for you, then you are not paying attention.