Veteran leads all Oldsmar jockeys with 4,648 career victories, plans to go to Presque Isle Downs next; Daniel Centeno gains ground on Antonio Gallardo in standings.
Scott Spieth keeps looking for new challenges. After winning the riding title last year at Delaware Park, the 51-year-old jockey plans to move his tack to Presque Isle Downs in western Pennsylvania at the end of the current Tampa Bay Downs meeting.
Spieth will be accompanied by his wife, trainer Aldana Gonzalez, whose clients include the high-powered Loooch Racing Stable of Ron Paolucci. Spieth, who has ridden 4,648 winners – 43rd all-time and 20th among active jockeys – also brings a level of enthusiasm that helps him stay sharp.
“The day it becomes where it’s work rather than I love it, that’s the time to say I’ve had enough,” said Spieth, whose selection as the Señor Tequila Mexican Grill Jockey of the Month coincided with a strong run during which he climbed to ninth in the Oldsmar standings with 19 victories.
“I love what I do, even on the down times. I always tease people that I actually get paid to ride horses, and common folk have to pay for a horseback ride,” Spieth said.
“I enjoy working with horses, I enjoy riding races and I love the competition. I’m healthy and I feel good. What else can you ask for?”
Spieth, who has three daughters and two sons from his previous marriage, recently celebrated his first anniversary with Gonzalez, a transplant from Argentina. The rider and the conditioner had spent four years together before getting married, but Spieth said not much has changed in their approach to their jobs, as they continue working as a team.
“The main benefit is we both provide input, and even if we have different views, we can discuss our opinions and decide on a game plan,” Spieth said. “If one of us gets in a slump, we’re there to build each other back up. You don’t want to be changing things much. This is one of those roller-coaster businesses where you can be going great and then all of a sudden not doing well, but horses will usually do better with a consistent approach.”
Spieth has ridden more winners than any jockey in the room at Tampa Bay Downs. He’s done it the hard way, often riding two cards a day from 2000-2008 – at ThistleDown outside Cleveland in the sunshine and at Mountaineer in West Virginia at night.
He rode 307 winners in 2005 and averaged 269 a year from 2005-2007. In 2009, he won the $500,000 West Virginia Jefferson Security Bank Cavada Breeders’ Classic at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races on My Sister Margaret.
Spieth says his experience enables him to remain competitive against younger jockeys. “I think the biggest thing is my knowledge, as far as being able to handicap a race, look at a race and see it unfold. I see what’s happening before it happens. That is probably my biggest strength,” he said.
Spieth says not much has changed from the time he was getting started more than 30 years ago. “It’s the same kind of energy as when I was their age,” Spieth said of the next generation of riders. “It’s basically a locker room of teenagers in here. The biggest thing I try to do for the younger riders is advise them as far as investing or saving their money, or try to guide some of them to a track where I think they might do well or connect them with an agent somewhere.
“We all make mistakes. It’s not perfection when you’re riding,” Spieth said. “The big thing is trying to minimize your mistakes and giving your horses the best opportunity to win.”
Around the oval. Six-time Tampa Bay Downs jockey champion Daniel Centeno rode three winners today, enabling him to narrow three-time champ Antonio Gallardo’s lead in the standings to 79-70.
Centeno won the second race on Halfback, a 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by G.L.A. Stable and trained by Victor Carrasco, Jr. Halfback was claimed from the victory by trainer Gerald Bennett for new owner Raymond Rech.
In the sixth race, Centeno scored aboard R Hot Twenty’s, a 3-year-old gelding Gerald Bennett and his wife Mary bred in Florida. Averill Racing and CCF Racing Stable own R Hot Twenty’s.
Centeno added the eighth race on El Grande Rojo, a 10-year-old gelding owned by Laura and Neil Barrish and trained by Charles Harvatt.
Gallardo won two races. He captured the third on the turf on Petipa, a 3-year-old filly bred and owned by Pia Kirkham and trained by Gerald Bennett. Gallardo also won the seventh on the turf on Music Babe, a 4-year-old filly owned by Thor-Bred Stable and trained by Kathleen O’Connell.
Bennett narrowed O’Connell’s lead in the trainer standings to 33-32 with his two victories.
Pablo Morales rode two winners. He took the first race on Greely Is Back, a 6-year-old gelding owned and trained by Justin Johns. Greely Is Back was claimed from the race by trainer Dale Bennett for new owner Big E Stables.
Morales added the ninth race on the turf on Outrank, a 3-year-old filly owned by Casner Racing and Eoin Harty and trained by Harty.
Thoroughbred racing continues Friday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:44 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs races each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with the exception of Easter Sunday, April 1, when the track is closed.
Otherwise, Tampa Bay Downs is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.