Eric Cancel: ‘The People Who Mean The Most Are The People That Stick With You’

Just one live race day remains in 2021 to complete a remarkable year of racing action on the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit. The NYRA Press Office checked in with a selection of New York-based racing personalities to get their reflections on a memorable year.

It did not take Eric Cancel, 25, long to display his capabilities, leading all apprentice riders in earnings in 2015 and becoming a finalist for Outstanding Apprentice that year.

After six years of competing on the NYRA circuit, Cancel enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2021, winning six races on the final day of the Aqueduct winter meet to secure his first NYRA riding title.

This year provided Cancel with a handful of accomplishments, including his first multiple graded stakes-winning year capturing the Grade 3 Withers with Risk Taking and the G2 Fort Marcy with Tribhuvan for trainer Chad Brown; and the G3 Soaring Softly with Bye Bye for conditioner Christophe Clement. Heading into the final day of racing in 2021, Cancel is also enjoying his best season in wins [147] and purse earnings [$9.9 million]. Both of Cancel’s parents, Efrain Cancel and Gezzela Algarin, were jockeys in his native Puerto Rico.

How does it feel to have enjoyed your most successful year yet?

Cancel: “It feels wonderful. I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve been getting on the racetrack. Not just from the trainers, but from the owners. The grooms, hotwalkers and everyone do a great job with all the horses that we ride. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here. My agent [P. J. Campo] has done a great job.”

What contributed to your success in 2021?

Cancel: “I just try to stay focused and keep looking forward to what I want in my career. All the stakes that I have been able to ride and win, have been great. Winning some of the first few stakes of the year in New York meant a lot to me. It just kept me going and opened more doors for me. It was just a good thing to have in my career.”

You had a six-win day in March to become leading rider at the Aqueduct winter meet. How big was that?

Cancel: “Unbelievable. I never thought I would be able to pull it off. Not too many riders have been able to do that. I know Dylan Davis did it a few years back. It isn’t anything easy and to be able to do it is something really memorable. It’s something that I’ll always be very proud of.”

What does it mean to have highly-regarded trainers like Chad Brown and Christophe Clement putting you on more horses?

Cancel: “It’s a really big help. Being able to ride for those people that have better horses really puts you in a better spot. It makes other people see how much ability you have. With that kind of help they gave me, it kept on building on my momentum.”

You’ve won stakes this year for Gary Sciacca and Jorge Abreu, who have been big supporters of yours for a while. How important are those relationships?

Cancel: “They’ve been there since scratch. They’re the ones that always have given me a hand and I’ll always be appreciative of them just for sticking with me. It’s not easy sometimes when you go up and down. The people who mean the most are the people that stick with you, even when you’re struggling a little bit. In this case, thank God I’ve been able to keep on building up. I’ve always stuck with them the same way they’ve always stuck with me.”

Talk about the differences between riding at all three NYRA tracks.

Cancel: “I feel like I ride better at Belmont with the wider turns. I’ve been trying to make a change in my style of riding at both Saratoga and Aqueduct to try and save more ground and put my horses in better positions. Belmont is a little easier because the turns are wider and you don’t have to struggle that much to keep a horse where you want them to be. I’m trying to do the best job I can and trying to put everything I’m leaning together to try and keep it going.”

Both of your parents were riders, how much of an influence have they been?

Cancel: “They had a huge influence on me. I’ve always been around racing since I was a little kid. As soon as they started watching me get into racing a lot, they kept on pushing me into it. They always were there for me when I needed it. They taught me from scratch so I’m grateful for them and all the people that have had something to do with it.”

What are your goals for next year?

Cancel: “My main goal is to try and keep doing better every year. In the future, I have goals to be in the Breeders’ Cup and the Kentucky Derby. That’s one of the main things we all look forward to as jockeys. I just take everything day-by-day. I don’t rush things and I try to let things fall into place. If I have the opportunity, I’ll take the opportunity. If not, I’ll just keep riding it out until I get it.”

The post Eric Cancel: ‘The People Who Mean The Most Are The People That Stick With You’ appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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