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Bocachica having outstanding year

May 20, 2007|By LARRY YANOS

Apprentice jockey Arnaldo Bocachica is enjoying an outstanding campaign at Charles Town Races & Slots.

The 18-year-old native of Puerto Rico was the leading rider at the West Virginia thoroughbred oval for the year (86 wins, 60 second-place finishes and 75 third-place finishes) and for the current spring meet (28 wins, 24 second-place finishes and 24 third-place finishes) entering Friday's card.

He also is the second-leading "bug" rider in the country.

"He's doing well," jocks' agent Hersom Rodriguez said. "He's a talented rider and is making the most of his opportunities. We are riding for some excellent trainers here and he's also riding some horses shipped in from Maryland."

Rodriguez is also the jocks' agent for J.D. Acosta - the leading rider at Charles Town in 2006.

Bocachica came to Charles Town in June of 2006 after graduating from jockey's school in Puerto Rico and won his first race in July.

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He won his fifth race in August, so will lose his "apprentice" status on Aug. 25.

"He has become an excellent 'bug' rider," Rodriguez said. "He works hard, wants to improve."

Bocachica was competing some at Maryland last fall but lost riding opportunities when the likes of Jeremy Rose and others came to the Free State when Delaware Park closed.

"There's nothing wrong with Charles Town," Rodriguez said. "The purses are good, he's getting a chance to ride good horses."

Bocachica rode his first stakes race Saturday night at Charles Town.

Great white north

Jockey Travis Dunkelberger, for years one of the leading riders at Charles Town, is now competing at the Assiniboia Downs Racetrack in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The current 70-day meet started May 5 and concludes Sept. 23.

Through May 17, Dunkelberger had accepted 19 mounts and showed one win, one second-place finish and five third-place finishes.

"That's where he started," said former Charles Town-based jockey's agent Billy Kennedy. "He's riding some horses for trainer Ardell Snyder, who gave him his start."

Dunkelberger was born and raised on a family farm in South Dakota and started his race-riding career at Assiniboia Downs. He also rode in New York and Pennsylvania before calling Charles Town home in 1996.

Over the years, Dunkelberger was a dominant figure at the West Virginia thoroughbred oval, enjoyed tremendous success at the abbreviated Timonium Race Course meeting last September and rode regularly at Laurel Park, Pimlico and Delaware Park.

Pony tales

Pimlico will offer twilight thoroughbred horse racing on Thursdays and Fridays from May 24 to June 8.

Post time will be 3:15 p.m.

Reeves International made a major donation to the Laminitis Fund, created in memory of Barbaro, during the annual Alibi Breakfast Thursday at Pimlico.

Company president Tony Fleischmann presented a check for $126,500 to the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School - the beneficiary of the Laminitis Fund.

Reeves International is the parent company of Breyer, renowned maker of model horses. The fund for laminitis research was established by Barbaro's owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson.

The Alibi Breakfast is a traditional event linked to the running of the Preakness Stakes, the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

Barbaro, the unbeaten Kentucky Derby winner and favorite in the 2006 Preakness, suffered catastrophic injuries to his right rear leg in the opening yards of Pimlico's marquee race.

In January, Barbaro was euthanized after he was stricken with laminitis, an often-fatal ailment that affects the flow of blood to a horse's hooves.

Larry Yanos is sports editor of The Daily Mail. He covers horse racing for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at larryy@herald-mail.com

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