It took Eric Cancel tying the New York Racing Association record for single-day wins to bring him his first career riding title. So with that flair for the dramatic, Cancel won six races on Aqueduct’s Winter Meet closing day Sunday.

Eric Cancel-Six Wins at Aqueduct
Eric Cancel completed his six-pack of Sunday victories with this neck score aboard My Boy Tate in the Haynesfield Stakes. Going 6-for-8 on the final day of Aqueduct’s Winter Meet gave Cancel his first riding title. (Image: Chelsea Durand/NYRA)

Call it his own stretch drive.

Cancel came into Sunday’s closing day four wins behind Kendrick Carmouche, who captured Aqueduct’s Fall Meet for his first riding title. But in a memorable afternoon, Cancel won six of Aqueduct’s eight races to snatch the title from Carmouche, 78-76. Manny Franco was a distant third with 61.

If that wasn’t enough, Cancel finished second and third in the two races he didn’t win. He hit the board in all eight races in a bid to become the first NYRA rider to win seven races in a single day.

Five in a row brought Cancel a six-pack

Cancel, 24, topped the board in the day’s first race, piloting Sono Grato to a maiden mile victory. After finishing second aboard Big Mountain in the second race, Cancel reeled off five consecutive wins in races 3-7. The last came aboard My Boy Tate in the day’s feature, the $100,000 Haynesfield, a one-mile, Black-Type stakes for New York-breds.

Cancel wrapped up the day finishing third aboard Allied Invasion in a maiden race.

“I’ve been trying to take everything in a good way and try to make every step better and better,” Cancel told Brian Bohl of the NYRA. “I think right now, I’m on my top game. I know the guys are coming back from Florida and it’ll be a little tough because a lot of mounts will go back to them. But I’ll just keep on grinding. Nothing is going to stop me and I’ll just keep on doing my best.”

Could this be Cancel’s breakout day?

It’s not like Cancel came out of the clouds. He was a finalist for the 2015 Eclipse Award as Outstanding Apprentice after leading North American apprentices in earnings, losing out to Tyler Gaffalione. In this meet, Cancel won 21.6% of his races (78-for-361) and finished in the money nearly 54% of the time (194-for-361).

That produced more than $4 million in earnings, a total fortified by five stakes victories. Three of those came in February. The headline there came aboard Risk Taking in the Grade 3 $250,000 Withers Stakes, a Kentucky Derby prep.

Rudy Rodriguez won the training title, conditioning 36 winners from his meet-leading 181 starters. His mounts found the board 48.6% of the time, and found the winner’s circle nearly 20% of the time.

Aqueduct segues into its 11-day Spring Meet, which opens Thursday and runs through Sunday, April 18. Headlining that will be Saturday’s Grade 2 Wood Memorial, a 170-point Kentucky Derby prep.

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