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November 28, 2018


by Mike Henry
Desire, focus and able guidance from his agent, Steve Elzey, have made Camacho a rider to be reckoned with; trainer Monte Thomas sends out two winners, and both are claimed by rival trainer Tony Wilson. That's the racing game.

Samy Camacho arrived at Tampa Bay Downs brimming with confidence after finishing third at the Gulfstream Park summer meeting with 46 victories and sixth at Gulfstream Park West this fall with 24.

After riding 100 winners here last season to finish second to Antonio Gallardo, it’s logical to expect Camacho to contend for top honors. With Steve Elzey as his agent and leading trainers vying for his services, Camacho appears ready both talent-wise and mentally to make a major impression.


Samy Camacho

With three victories over the last two racing days, Camacho has been selected as the first Señor Tequila Mexican Grill Jockey of the Month Award winner of the 2018-2019 meeting.

“This is my fourth season at Tampa Bay Downs, and I have a lot of confidence right now because I’m riding for better trainers and riding better horses,” Camacho said. “Every race is important for me, and I’m happy to be here because this is my place.”

Trainers have noticed Camacho’s rapid improvement over the last year. “He had a very good year at Gulfstream, and I think he is well on his way to being one of the better riders here,” said trainer Monte Thomas after Camacho rode his 2-year-old Florida-bred filly Russian Roulette to a 16 ¼-length maiden victory in today’s third race.

“He (Camacho) works hard and tries to ride each horse as the race comes up instead of falling into the same pattern,” Thomas said. “He came here with a lot of confidence, and that’s a big thing for a horse and a rider. I plan to keep using him, but if he gets real hot I might not be able to get to him.”

Camacho rode two winners on Saturday’s Opening Day card. The 30-year-old native of Caracas, Venezuela isn’t shy about making his ambition known: He wants to win his first riding title at Tampa Bay Downs.

“I think the two top jockeys I have to beat (to win a title) are Antonio Gallardo and Daniel Centeno, but I respect all the jockeys here,” Camacho said. “The competition is going to be tough no matter where you’re riding, and I have to go to work every day and check with my owners and trainers in the morning and try hard every race.”

Camacho has been joined in Oldsmar by his younger brother, jockey Samuel Camacho, Jr. They come from a racing family; their father, Samuel Camacho, Sr., rode his entire career in Venezuela, notching more than 900 victories.

Also keeping Camacho grounded are his wife Kismar Torcat, their 12 and 4-year-old sons and a 10-year-old daughter. They are expecting another child in the spring.

Camacho has always been a good-natured jockey with potential, but Elzey has helped sharpen his focus by taking care of the business end and encouraging Camacho to do what he does best – make good decisions and get all kinds of horses to run for him.

“Steve Elzey has a lot of experience and knows every top trainer,” Camacho said. “He teaches me a couple of things every day to make me a better jockey, and having him as an agent lets me concentrate 100 percent on my job.

“He’s a good agent and a good person, and he’s my friend,” Camacho said.

“Tampa Bay Owners Club” contest is Dec. 8. Anyone who has wanted to own a racehorse can experience the next-closest thing by entering the “Tampa Bay Owners Club” fantasy-based contest on Saturday, Dec. 8.

Before a race to be designated by track officials, fans can pick the winner by filling out an entry blank at the main entrance and depositing it in a receptacle corresponding to their choice. Anyone who picks the winning horse becomes part of “the syndicate” – a group of fantasy owners who get to experience many of the perks associated with the sport of kings, without the risk.

Each time the horse returns to action during the meeting, its new “owners” will receive free admission, a program, a mutuel voucher, concession-stand discounts and an attractive pin. They will also be invited to the paddock before the race and, in case of another victory, the winner’s circle for the presentation and picture.

There is no cost to enter the contest, making it an ideal opportunity for fans curious about what goes into owning a racing Thoroughbred.

Around the oval. In addition to his victory with Russian Roulette, trainer Monte Thomas won the eighth race with 2-year-old Florida-bred colt I’m a Cool Man, a first-time starter owned by Thomas’ Ups and Downs Racing and Fulcrum Stable and ridden by Addiel Ayala.

In a rare occurrence, both of Thomas’ winners were claimed by new trainer Tony Wilson for owner Happy Tenth Stable.

Trainer Michael Stidham also sent out two winners. He captured the second race with Mame, a 3-year-old filly owned by Roy D. Gottlieb and Jerry Chez and ridden by Pablo Morales. Stidham added the ninth race on the turf with Good Marks, a 3-year-old filly owned by e Five Racing Thoroughbreds and ridden by Jose A. Bracho.

Four-time leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Antonio Gallardo rode back-to-back winners today. He captured the fifth race on the turf on first-time starter Zarina, a 2-year-old filly bred and owned by Robert C. Roffey, Jr., and trained by Chad Stewart. Gallardo also won the sixth race on 3-year-old Florida-bred filly Derby Day Darling, bred and owned by Blackacre Farms, Inc., and trained by Kathleen O’Connell.

Thoroughbred racing resumes Friday with a 10-race card beginning at 12:40 p.m. Saturday’s program marks the start of the 2018-2019 stakes schedule, with both the $100,000 Turf Dash for horses 3-years-old-and-upward and the $100,000 Lightning City Stakes for fillies and mares 3-years-old-and-upward on tap. Both races are slated for the turf course.

Tampa Bay Downs is open every day except Christmas, Dec. 25, for simulcast wagering, no-limits action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.