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Francisco Arrieta Makes An Impression at Canterbury

By Rebecca Roush

It’s been a long road to Canterbury Park for rider Francisco Arrieta, a new face this season in Shakopee.

Growing up in La Rinconada, Venezuela, the 29-year-old jockey has had a long history of horseracing. “I remember going to the racetrack when I was young and just loving everything about it,” Arrieta said. His uncle and cousins rode horses, which also sparked an interest for Arrieta.

At 16 he enrolled in a jockey academy where he got his first taste of riding and racing. He raced in his first meet at the Hipodrome de Santa Rita near Maracaibo, Venezuela at the age of 18.

Arrieta went on to have a successful racing career in South America before moving to North America to race in 2012. Before arriving at Canterbury, he raced at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Arizona, where he secured 67 wins out of 326 starts and finished sixth in the standings.

During his first few weeks at Canterbury, Arrieta has already proven popular, winning several times. His lifetime earnings total nearly $930,000.

“I have already made it to five hundred career starts and would like to retire with one thousand,” Arrieta said. The rider added that the most important part about racing is to never stop working. “Practice is the most important part about what I do,” he said. “Without practice you don’t go anywhere.”

“Racing is a big part of my life,” Arreita said. “I don’t know where I would be without it.” His favorite part about racing is the energy and excitement that it brings him and he can “definitely see that excitement at Canterbury from the fans.” Arrieta also enjoys being around the other jockeys here and said that Canterbury has “some of the nicest people to work with.”

When he’s is not on the racetrack, Arrieta enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time with his wife, Elizabeth and two daughters, Franyelis, 8, and Naeily, 6. “Both of my daughters enjoy being around horses and love watching me race,” he said.

Arrieta looks forward to a successful meet here and said he is “always looking for ways to improve and get better.”