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March 27, 2019


by Mike Henry
Victor Carrasco, Jr., is Rumba Island Bar & Grill Trainer of Month; Samy Camacho, Pablo Morales each ride two winners.

Even though he has been around the sport since his father brought him to his barn when he was 7, trainer Victor Carrasco, Jr., is not immune to the pressure that accompanies the quest to win races.

Quiet Sundays on the Tampa Bay Downs backside offer the time and setting for an uplifting perspective check. That’s when Carrasco and his partner, Tampa Bay Downs Association Official, Jenn Moore, bring their nearly-2-year-old daughter Mya to commune with the Thoroughbreds.

“She’s obsessed with the horses, and she loves going to the barn and spending time there with Victor,” Moore said.


Victor Carrasco, Jr.

For Carrasco, whose recent activity resulted in five victories from 11 starts and the Rumba Island Bar & Grill Trainer of the Month Award, those precious moments make the long hours and the challenges worthwhile.

“This business can take up a lot of time and energy,” Carrasco said. “But when I see my daughter, it makes me work even harder. It motivates me to do the best I can to provide a good life for her in the future.”

The 43-year-old Carrasco, a San Juan, Puerto Rico product, has carved out a niche the past two seasons as one of the track’s most successful claiming trainers. He tied for fifth last season with 17 victories and is tied for fourth this year with 15 winner’s-circle trips.

Carrasco – who tied for 10th at Delaware Park last summer and fall, with 12 victories – achieved career victory No. 500 on March 15 with Itsagimme’s Girl, a 4-year-old filly owned by K.A.P. Racing Stable.

“It’s a good feeling. It’s not easy to keep going and win 500 races,” said Carrasco, who trained three Grade I winners in Puerto Rico.

Carrasco, who currently has about 20 horses in his barn, is grateful to his father (who is retired from training) for putting him on the right path. In addition to grasping the importance of recognizing each horse as an individual with different needs, habits and talent levels, the younger Carrasco learned to let his horses dictate the pace at which they should be trained to their races.

“I don’t rush the 2 and 3-year-olds. Usually, I let them tell me what to do. I always have a plan, but plans can change fast,” he said.

Carrasco has forged a successful partnership with William Rivera’s G.L.A. Stable, which posted 16 victories last season and has eight this season. “Any success I have is because of teamwork with my owners,” Carrasco said. “They’re giving me the chance to work my way and spot their horses where I think they can win, and I want to make the best decisions I can for our team.”

And on those occasions when things don’t work out as he hoped, he can look forward to Sunday at the barn with Jenn and Mya.

Around the oval. Leading jockey Samy Camacho and Pablo Morales each rode two winners today. Camacho won the fifth race on Talkback, a 3-year-old Florida-bred filly bred and owned by GoldMark Farm and trained by Todd Quast. Camacho added the seventh race with Sir Douglas, a 5-year-old gelding owned by Happy Tenth Stable and trained by John J. Tammaro, III.

Morales won the second race on Ned Devine, a 7-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Laramie Racing Stable and Sabal Racing Stable and trained by Darien Rodriguez. Morales added the fourth on the turf on Good Marks, a 4-year-old filly owned by e Five Racing Thoroughbreds and trained by Michael Stidham.

Good Marks was claimed from the race by owner-trainer Bernell Rhone for $16,000.

Thoroughbred racing continues Friday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:55 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs stages racing each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday through May 5, with the exception of Easter Sunday, April 21, when the track is closed.

Otherwise, 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.

Florida Cup Day is Sunday. The 17th annual Florida Cup, a series of six stakes races worth $115,000 apiece for registered Florida-breds, will be held Sunday. Entries will be taken Thursday.

Three Florida Cup races will be contested on the main track, with three on the turf. The slate of main-track events includes the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore Stakes, for 3-year-olds at a distance of 7 furlongs; the Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies, for 3-year-old fillies at 7 furlongs; and the Zaxby’s Sprint, for horses 4-years-old-and-upward going 6 furlongs.

The turf races are the DRF Bets Sophomore Turf, for 3-year-olds at a mile-and-a-sixteenth; the Pleasant Acres Stallions Distaff Turf, for fillies and mares 3-years-old-and-upward going a mile-and-a-sixteenth; and the Touch Vodka Turf Classic, for horses 4-years-old-and-upward at a distance of a mile-and-an-eighth.

The Florida Cup is presented by Jim Browne Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram and iHeartRadio.