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December 19, 2018


by Mike Henry
No rain clouds in Samy's world -- he rides four winners to reach milestone; Jose A. Bracho sweeps early daily double in saddle; those whippersnappers are a combined 51 years old, pups compared to Jorge L. Vargas, who wins fifth race with 61st birthday approaching.

After riding his 200th winner in 2018 in today’s seventh race on 4-year-old filly Silly Factor, Samy Camacho speculated he might win 10 or more additional races before the end of the year.

The Caracas, Venezuela transplant got right down to business, winning the eighth race on the turf with a furious rally aboard 4-year-old gelding My Bariley for his fourth victory on the card.


Samy Camacho

“I’ve never done anything like (winning 200 races in a year) in my life, and it feels really good,” said Camacho, who won Saturday’s $125,000 Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes on 3-year-old filly Silver Bay for his first Tampa Bay Downs stakes triumph.

“My family is with me, God is with me and everybody loves me in Tampa. Every day when I wake up, I see the sky and talk to God and thank him for continuing to bless me,” Camacho said.

His milestone triumph on Silly Factor came in a 6-furlong allowance/optional claiming event for owner Robson Thoroughbreds and trainer Gerald Bennett.

Camacho is the 19th jockey to ride 200 winners this year in North America. Defending Oldsmar riding champion Antonio Gallardo, who is tied for sixth on the continent with 246 winners, is the other Tampa Bay Downs jockey to reach the two-century mark in 2018.

Camacho, who finished second to Gallardo in last season’s Tampa Bay Downs standings with 100 victories, entered the 2018 calendar year with 170 North American victories. He sits atop the current Oldsmar standings with 21 victories, 10 ahead of runner-up Daniel Centeno.

“Like every jockey, I want to win the title. That’s my wish and my dream,” Camacho said.

In the seventh race, Camacho was content to let Silly Factor linger in mid-pack while J’s Indian Charm and Gibby knocked heads through an opening quarter-mile in 21.91 seconds and a half in 45.06. After launching their winning move on the turn, Silly Factor and Camacho rolled to a five-and-a-quarter length triumph in 1:11.20 on a track rated fast.

“That was so easy. The track is real good in the four, five and six paths, and I stayed in the clear all around and never hit her. I never touched her – she just galloped,” Camacho said.

Camacho’s big day began in the third race with a victory on Pure Gemmz, a 5-year-old mare bred and owned by Ad Hoc Stable and trained by Bill Sienkewicz.

Camacho took the fourth race on American Halo, a 3-year-old filly owned and trained by Gary F. House. He went back-to-back for the second time on the card by winning the eighth race on the turf on My Bariley, bred and owned by Captain Jack Racing Stable and trained by Anthony Granitz.

Around the oval. Jose A. Bracho swept both halves of the early daily double. The 21-year-old from Maracaibo, Venezuela captured the first race aboard The Great Kath, a 3-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Casa Blanca Stables and trained by Kelly D. Jones.

Bracho won the second race with a whirlwind finish on Bridge of Sighs, a 4-year-old Florida-bred filly owned and trained by Juan Arriagada. The 6-5 Bracho double paid $44.60 for a $2 wager.

In the fifth race, jockey Jorge L. Vargas, who turns 61 Friday, rode 5-year-old gelding Man Upstairs to an upset victory at odds of 18-1. “I feel like a young kid right now,” Vargas said after the race. He has more than 3,100 career victories and set the Tampa Bay Downs 6-furlong track record of 1:08.67 on It’s Me Mom in 2012.

Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs continues Friday with a 10-race card beginning at 12:25 p.m. Sunday racing returns to the mix this week, and when the action picks up again after Christmas, Tampa Bay Downs will conduct its annual Calendar Giveaway.

The 2019 edition of the commemorative calendar, featuring images from some of the area’s top equine photojournalists, is free to the first 10,000 patrons, with paid admission.

The calendars will be given away through Dec. 30 or until supplies are exhausted.

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.