06/10/2011 2:48PM

Fort Erie: Buchanan finding success as jockey

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FORT ERIE, Ontario – Marklee Z. Buchanan is a new rider on the Fort Erie scene, and he has already brought home four winners in 27 starts. That 14 percent win mark is beginning to attract other trainers as Buchanan, at the age of 33, tries to build a career at the border oval.

“I do not have the apprentice bug,” said Buchanan, “as I rode a number of years at Jamaica’s Caymanas Park, winning well over 100 races.”

“Riding in Jamaica was a challenging experience, and I feel confident that it gave me the necessary skills to bring home winners at the Fort.

“Large fields are commonplace at Caymanas, and the action is very tight and aggressive. Bumping irons in a hard drive to the wire is often part of the game.”

Queried on the “Z” in his name, the rider said that his parents had named him after the prophet Zephaniah.

“He prophesized in and around 500 B.C., and I am proud that they thought to name me after such a great biblical figure,” Buchanan said.

Currently freelancing at the moment, Buchanan intends to hook up with an agent in the near future.

“Thankfully, some of the trainers here have put me aboard some quality runners, and that has helped me establish a decent record so far,” Buchanan said.

“I am at the track at dawn and getting aboard as many horses as I can. You have to work hard to get established, and I intend to show trainers at the Fort that I am reliable, hard-working, and capable.”

So far, Buchanan is on the right road and is currently tied for 10th in the rider standings.

◗ Effective Sunday, there will be a reduction in the takeout for both pick fours on the card. The takeout will be reduced from 16 percent to 14 percent as the track attempts to gain more players on the four-race exotic ticket.

◗ Trainer Ken Albu has put together a 12-horse stable at the Fort that includes owners such as the Six Brothers Stable and the Parkway Stable.

“We have only started a few so far, but there is plenty of time ahead and we intend to be very active,” Albu said. “I am a little high on a 3-year-old maiden in the barn, Halo of Falkor, and look forward to her first career start. She has shown plenty of promise.”

Halo of Falkor will make her first career start here Sunday in a six-furlong maiden race.

◗ My Natalie, who is owned and trained by Martin Drexler and ridden by Krista Carignan, won her third straight race at the Fort on Tuesday, going gate to wire. She now leads all runners in the win category.

Carignan won three races on the day and now has won 12 races, good for second in the standings. Chris Griffith continues to lead with 17 wins.

◗ The twilight racing schedule began last Monday and Tuesday at the Fort, and the good news was that the Prince of Wales dining facility was fully booked for buffet dinners. The bad news involved Mother Nature.

“The rains put the work force on the grandstand Tiki Bar behind schedule, and regrettably affected the Tuesday opening,” said Elissa Blowe, Fort Erie’s media and marketing manager. “A revised date will be announced.”