News & Barn notes

Apprentice Abnel Bocachica Looking To Make An Impact After Shifting His Tack From Charles Town To Monmouth Park This Summer

May 09, 2024

Abnel Bocachica was no different than most sports-minded kids growing up, playing a variety of different sports and uncertain of what he wanted to do when he got older.

In actuality, his eventual career was already pre-determined for the native of Carolina, Puerto Rico, who has shifted his tack to Monmouth Park this summer.

His grandfather was a jockey and trainer in Puerto Rico. His dad, Arnaldo Bochachica, is the perennial leading jockey at Charles Town and currently tops the riding standings there. And his uncle, Orlando Bocachica, has won nearly 1,400 races over his riding career, with Charles Town as his base.

“I think I was 13 or 14 when I finally told my dad I wanted to be a jockey,” said the 19-year-old Bocachica, a five-pound bug who is listed to ride four horses on Saturday’s 10-race opening day card. “That’s when I started getting more into the business, watching races and going to the track with him, going around with him to different tracks when he was riding.

“I started watching and learning as much as I could.”

After launching his riding career at Hipodromo Camarero in Puerto Rico last year, Bocachica left to join his dad and uncle as part of the Charles Town riding colony. He was third in the rider standings before leaving for the Jersey Shore track.

“I thought it was time to try a different track,” said Bocachica, who has recently had mounts at Parx and the Belmont at the Big A meet. “I wanted to put myself out there and get more exposure. I wanted to ride at some of the bigger tracks to see if I can compete there.

“I started at Charles Town because my dad and uncle said it would be a good place to learn. I feel I am ready to move on.”

But he will miss riding against family members, he said.

“It’s so much fun riding against my dad and uncle,” said Bocachica. “My father and I are really competitive. One time I was going for my third win on the card and my dad beat me at the wire. As we were coming back he said `you have to give someone else a chance. You’ve already won two races.’

“I have a picture of us coming down the stretch fighting for the lead and after I won by a nose all he said was `good ride.’ There have been times when I passed him in the stretch and I would trash talk him as I went by. He would do the same thing. One time when my uncle beat me by a head bob on the wire he let me know about it afterward.”

Bocachica has a specific goal in mind for the 51-day Monmouth Park meet.

“I want to be the leading apprentice,” he said.

During Monmouth Park off days, Bocachica said he intends to ride at as many of the nearby tracks as he can.