10/23/2012 12:41PM

Golden Gate: Carr picks up where he left off at old stomping grounds

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Dennis Carr returned to ride at Golden Gate after five years in New York.

After an absence of five years, jockey Dennis Carr returned to Northern California for the Golden Gate Fields fall meet and scored a victory each day of opening week.

All four winners returned double-digit payoffs. A $2 wager on each runner would have netted a $22 profit. Carr also had 2 seconds and 3 thirds from his 18 mounts.

The 43-year-old Carr began his career in New York and still makes his home there with his wife, Alisa. He made Northern California his home from 1995-2002 and again from 2004-07.

Carr was the runner-up to Russell Baze in the jockey standings four times at Bay Meadows and five times at Golden Gate Fields during his first stay. He finished second to Baze at Bay Meadows upon his return in 2004 and then was third behind Baze and Frank Alvarado at the Golden Gate 2004-05 winter meeting.

While in New York, Carr rode primarily at Finger Lakes as he and his wife built a home and boarding kennel on 5 1/2 acres they purchased near Saratoga Springs. Carr and his wife designed the home, and when they realized their basement was 2,200 square feet, they decided to turn that into their kennel rather the build a separate one.

Carr said he did much of the construction work himself, including the framing and installing sheet rock.

“The area was already zoned for what we wanted to do,” he said. “We had our business license and did everything, like the electrical work, up to code.”

With the business, called Waggs and Woofs, finally established, Carr rode the winter meet at Aqueduct last year, but the weather and tough travel led him to decide to ride in Northern California this year.

“My wife’s not out here, but we figure that we’ll be together more than when I’m riding in New York because of the four-day weeks,” Carr said.

“I can fly out Sunday night, be home Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and then fly out here to ride again Thursday. Finger Lakes runs five days, but the days off are Sunday and Wednesday, and Aqueduct also has five-day weeks.”

Carr already has tickets for his first return home next month.

Carr’s familiarity with the Northern California racing circuit played a role in his decision.

“Northern California has always been good for me,” he said. “I knew what to expect coming out.

“Russell’s the king. I understand that. I always thought whenever I came back Russell would be retired, but, nope, he’s still there and riding great.”

And Baze leads the jockey standings after the first week with seven wins. Inoel Beato has five, with Carr third in the standings with his four wins and the highest return on investment ($3.22) of any rider with more than five mounts.

Knowing trainers helps, and Carr has retained the services of his former agent, Boone McCanna.

Carr came out a week before the meet started to re-establish himself and get on horses for trainers.

“It’s nice getting started like this,” he said. “I had some horses that jumped up at a price.”

One trainer happy to see Carr’s return is Bill McLean, who had a big opening week with 3 wins and 2 seconds from 6 starters. Carr rode two of the winners and was second Sunday aboard Renzo Sean, who lost to stablemate Visual Intensity.

McLean said that Chris Carpenter, who owns a piece of both horses, jokingly told Carr and Alvarado that he’d buy them a lobster dinner if they dead-heated.

“I thought we might for a while, but the other horse was just too much,” Carr said.