Photo Courtesy: Oaklawn (Coady Photography)
HOT SPRINGS, AR (OAKLAWN) - Jockey Alex Canchari, who scored the first two wins of his career on Oaklawn's 2012 opening day card, began the last week of the 2013 meeting with his first career stakes victory aboard Devil and a Half in Sunday's $60,000 Arkansas Breeders' Stakes Open Division. It was the second straight Arkansas Breeders' win for Devil and a Half, who was claimed earlier in the season for $30,000 from the Millsap Stable by trainer Mac Robertson on behalf of owner Jeff Ryan.
Demonstrating the patience of a longtime journeyman, Canchari bided his time while racing along the rail in fourth place as Humble Smarty took the field through fractions of 24 1/5 and 49 for the first half mile. As the field entered the stretch, Canchari guided his winning mount through an opening and drew well clear to win by six lengths in a final time of 1:46 2/5 for 1 1/16 miles over a fast track. Humble Smarty, the slight 2.10-1 favorite, held on for second, a length in front of third-place finisher Presidenital Colors.
"We caught good going today, after two sloppy tracks," said Canchari. "That was good for him. He was so relaxed. Mac (Robertson) had him ready. I just tried to put him in the best position to win."
Devil and a Half improved his record to 6-6-6 in 24 starts and has now earned $196,407. The 6-year-old Storm and a Half horse bred by Millsap Stables returned $6.80, $3.40 and $2.80 as the $2.40-1 second choice in the 10-horse field. His victory was the third of the afternoon for Robertson, who enters the final four days of racing as leading trainer with 28 wins, two more than four-time leading trainer Steve Asmussen.
Live racing resumes Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. with the start of the Racing Festival of the South and the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies. There will be at least one stakes each day and the week culminates Saturday, April 13, closing day, with the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1).