Come-from-behind victory in fourth race swung the tide in veteran rider's favor; Shane Laviolette wins pair for trainer Efren Loza, Jr.
It would be inaccurate to say Pedro Monterrey, Jr., had been fixated on winning the $5,000 Jockeys’ Challenge during the Summer Festival of Racing and Music at Tampa Bay Downs.
But after finishing second, second and fourth in the two-day competition the last three years, the 33-year-old Venezuelan had a strong idea what he needed to do to turn back the competition.
Pedro Monterrey, Jr.
“All my life I’ve been working hard in this business, and it’s a good feeling to see your hard work pay off,” said Monterrey, who won a single race during the Summer Festival on June 30 and July 1 but compiled four seconds and two thirds to surge past runner-up Jose Alvarez, the first-day leader.
Alvarez’s chances evaporated when three of his horses were scratched today and another failed to draw in off the also-eligible list.
Monterrey finished with75 points, followed by Alvarez with 66. Charles C. Lopez and Federico Mata tied for third with 50 points each.
Monterrey earned first-place money of $2,500, with Alvarez settling for $1,500 and Lopez and Mata each collecting $500. Lopez forged the tie for third by winning the eighth and final race on July 1 on 3-year-old gelding Bertiesbeauboaz for trainer Rick Creel.
Monterrey, who will return to Gulfstream Park, credited agent Chris Creel for bolstering his business during the Summer Festival. “He’s been helping me get in a lot of good barns with good people, and I’m glad it worked out here,” said Monterrey.
The July 1 eight-race card, which concluded a highly successful Summer Festival, marked the official beginning of the 2018-2019 Oldsmar season. The meeting is expected to resume in late November.
Also on the July 1 card, veteran jockey Shane Laviolette, who was riding at Tampa Bay Downs for the first time this weekend after compiling more than 2,300 career victories, won back-to-back races for trainer Efren Loza, Jr.
Laviolette won the sixth race on 4-year-old Florida-bred filly Flora Fantasy, owned by Amancio Alonso. He added the seventh race aboard 3-year-old Florida-bred gelding Raise Em Up, owned by Caballo Grande Stable and Schludecker Racing Stable.
The Jockeys’ Challenge swung in Monterrey’s favor when he rallied 5-year-old gelding Man Upstairs from last place to win the fourth race for owner Rebecca Grenier and trainer Jorge Fuller-Vargas.
“It sure wasn’t easy. I had to ride him all the way around, and at the half-mile pole (of the mile-and-40-yard event), I still had five horses in front of me,” Monterrey said. “I had to circle everybody at the quarter pole and he was starting to get lazy, but when I asked him for his best, he responded.”