Consistency, thou art a jewel -- Pablo Morales has won at least 100 races nine consecutive years, one of only 21 jockeys to reach 200 this year.
With the deadline fast approaching, jockey Pablo Morales summoned a consummate front-running performance from 4-year-old gelding Polar City in the ninth race to earn his 200th victory of 2018.
The 30-year-old Morales, the leading jockey this year at Presque Isle Downs, reached the 200 mark for the first time last year, when he finished with 201 victories.
“It’s a lot of races, obviously, and it isn’t easy to do,” said Morales, one of 21 jockeys in North America to win 200 or more races this year. “You need a lot of support and you need to keep working hard, and you need to stay healthy, which is the main thing.
“I didn’t know until right now (he had reached 200),” Morales said minutes after the race. “I don’t really pay attention to that stuff; it feels great after without the pressure. I thank God I was able to do it and I’ll take it every year. I’m grateful for the support from all the trainers and my agent (Paula Bacon).”
Pablo Morales after milestone victory on Polar City
Polar City, owned and trained by Victor Carrasco, Jr., also won gate-to-wire under Morales here on Nov. 30 going a mile-and-a-sixteenth. Today’s race was a mile-and-40-yards for $10,000 claiming horses. Polar City won by a length-and-a-half from K D’s Cat Bird in a speedy time of 1:40.71.
“I think he likes being challenged,” Morales said after Polar City turned back a bold move by the runner-up on the far turn. “Last time I was out there by myself and I tried to slow the pace down, and he didn’t finish as strong as today. When I asked him, he really kicked in. He is kind of a high-headed horse and I guess his style is running freely.”
Morales, who won the Grade II, $750,000 Super Derby in 2005 at Louisiana Downs on The Daddy, shortly after turning 17, has more than 1,700 career victories and has ridden 100 or more winners nine consecutive years.
He’s far from grizzled, but his combination of experience, knowledge, hands and judgment of pace promise many more milestones to be achieved.
“My goal is to just keep doing what I’m doing and to stay healthy so that I can keep showing I’ve still got it. Just do the best I can with what I have,” he said. “I’m already 30, I’m an old man, so it feels great to be able to keep bringing them home like this.”
We should all be so old.
Around the oval. Leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Samy Camacho rode three winners today. He captured the second race on Colorincolonel, a 4-year-old filly owned by Powerstroke Racing and trained by Alfredo Lichoa. Camacho added the sixth race on the turf, the Lambholm South Race of the Week, aboard 5-year-old gelding Gucci Factor for owner Castleton Lyons and trainer Christophe Clement.
Camacho also won the eighth race aboard 2-year-old filly Decorated Ace in a thrilling finish, with the Florida-bred staving off Surprise Again by a head at a mile on the turf. Decorated Ace, who won the Sorority Stakes in September at Monmouth, is owned and trained by Brenda McCarthy.
Thoroughbred racing continues Sunday with a 10-race program beginning at 12:25 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs conducts racing each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For record-keeping purposes, racehorses in North America turn a year older on Jan. 1, regardless of their actual birthdate.
Tampa Bay Downs is open every day 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.
“College Day” contest is Jan. 12. Tampa Bay Downs is set to reach out to “Generation Z” through its inaugural “College Day” promotion, to be held Saturday, Jan. 12.
Current college students and high school seniors pursuing a post-secondary education are eligible to compete for one of five $2,000 scholarships to be awarded through the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce Educational Foundation.
Entrants will be eligible to win prizes and poker chips (usable in The Silks Poker Room) by spinning a prize wheel. Wagering seminars will be provided by track personnel throughout the day.
All students enrolled in four-year U.S. colleges and universities and two-year colleges and technical schools, as well as high school seniors, are eligible. There is no charge to enter.
To enter, eligible students must complete an entry form that will be available at the Customer Service Desk on the day of the contest. Upon the completion of that day’s racing, 25 names will be drawn at random and designated finalists.
After notification from track officials, the finalists will be required to submit an essay of fewer than 500 words on the following subject: “Marketing Horse Racing To a New Generation of Fans,” with emphasis on initiatives and proposals aimed at attracting and retaining new followers.
The deadline to submit essays is Feb. 2. They may be typed, hand-written or printed from a computer or personal device and should be submitted to the General Office or the Publicity Office.
A panel of judges will rank each essay, with criteria including feasibility of the marketing plan presented; originality; understanding of the horse racing industry; clarity; and grammar and spelling.
All non-winners will receive two passes good for free admission on any racing day. Track employees and their family members are not eligible.
Military Appreciation Day. Tampa Bay Downs will admit active and retired military personnel with proper identification free of charge on Military Appreciation Day, Jan. 5. Servicemen and women will be recognized during the day’s action.
The track is privileged to stage a day in recognition of these heroes who contribute so much to the American way of life.