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April 26, 2019


by Mike Henry
Top two Oldsmar jockeys to compete in Saturday stakes at Gulfstream, which will be simulcast here; Mitchell Murrill appears ready to fill void, scoring a hat trick.

On April 4, a dark day at Tampa Bay Downs, leading jockey Samy Camacho traveled to Gulfstream Park to ride four horses on the opening day of the Hallandale Beach track’s spring/early summer meeting.

Camacho posted a come-from-behind victory on 3-year-old gelding Gyoza, a 33-1 shot trained by Mary Eppler, and his services have been in demand at Gulfstream since then. He posted two victories from three starters there on April 11 and is tied for ninth in the standings, with five winners from 21 mounts.

Now, with his first Tampa Bay Downs riding title locked up (the 30-year-old Camacho has 122 victories, 21 more than four-time champion Antonio Gallardo), Camacho plans to move his tack to Gulfstream on a full-time basis following Wednesday’s card here. He will also be at Gulfstream this weekend, set to ride 16 horses Saturday and Sunday – including the 5-year-old mare Quebec for trainer Bobby Dibona in Saturday’s $75,000 Powder Break Stakes on the turf.

These are excellent days for Camacho, whose wife, Kismar Torcat, is expecting the couple’s fourth child, a son, in the next few weeks.

“The reason I want to move there now is I don’t want to lose the business I’ve already picked up,” said Camacho, who is represented by agent Steve Elzey. “When I won that first race (on Gyoza), I had trainers come up to me saying they wanted to put me on their horse, so I want to keep that going.

“It’s a good feeling and Steve is working hard to put me on good horses. We have good communication,” Camacho said.

Camacho is no stranger to south Florida horsemen and fans, having finished third in last year’s Gulfstream summer/early fall meeting with 46 winners and sixth at Gulfstream Park West in Miami Gardens last fall with 24 winners.

He is fifth in the 2019 North American jockey standings with 96 victories.

“I feel more confident, I’m more patient, everything is better,” said Camacho, who finished second to Gallardo in last season’s Tampa Bay Downs standings with 100 victories. “I want to keep learning more and keep improving.”

His patience was on full display in today’s ninth race, as he staged a strong stretch rally to win aboard 4-year-old filly Speeding Starlet for owner Juan Cacho Castro and trainer Gerald Bennett.

“I try hard every race, whether it’s a stakes or a $5,000 claiming race, and I know the trainers appreciate that,” said Camacho, who has also worked to hone his physique and avoid becoming fatigued. “I try on every horse from the gate to the wire, and that’s a big reason I’m doing well.”

Although he is eager to return to Gulfstream, the product of Caracas, Venezuela says he will miss his fan base at Tampa Bay Downs.

“When I finish a race and walk back to the jockeys’ room, I like to talk to the people, sign their programs, take a picture with them,” he said. “It’s a great feeling whenever that happens.”

Gallardo will also be out of town this weekend, returning for Wednesday’s Oldsmar card before moving his tack to Monmouth Park for the New Jersey track’s May 4 opening. Gallardo will also spend much of the spring and summer riding at Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pa.

On Saturday, Gallardo will be at Gulfstream to ride Florida-bred 4-year-old filly Crown and Sugar in the Powder Break Stakes for trainer Darien Rodriguez. Those three teamed to win the Florida Cup Pleasant Acres Stallions Distaff Turf Stakes here on March 31, Crown and Sugar’s fifth consecutive victory.

Gallardo then will get on an airplane to Toronto and Woodbine for Sunday’s $100,000 Wando Stakes, in which he will pilot 3-year-old Florida-bred colt Global Access for trainer Michael Trombetta. They won the Florida Cup DRF Bets Sophomore Turf Stakes here on March 31.

Gallardo rode two winners today, Nos. 100 and 101 for the meeting, marking the fifth consecutive season he has reached the century mark at Tampa Bay Downs (he rode elsewhere two years ago).

He won the fourth race on Fledermaus, a 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding bred and owned by Glen View Oaks and trained by Ian Hemingway, and added the sixth aboard Zarina, a 3-year-old filly bred and owned by Robert C. Roffey, Jr., and trained by Chad Stewart.

The exodus of top Oldsmar riders began last week, when six-time Tampa Bay Downs champ Daniel Centeno headed to Laurel Park in Maryland to ride 3-year-old gelding Alwaysmining to his sixth consecutive victory in the $125,000 Federico Tesio Stakes for trainer Kelly Rubley. That qualified Alwaysmining for the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness, on May 18 at Pimlico.

Also departed recently are Jesus Castanon (Kentucky), Ademar Santos (Woodbine), Jose Ferrer (preparing for Monmouth), Declan Cannon (Kentucky and Midwest), Feargal Lynch (Gulfstream), Jose A. Bracho (Indiana Grand) and Dean Butler (Canterbury).

The better jockeys go where the big money is, and as much as Tampa Bay Downs loves playing host to their outstanding abilities, business is business and we wish them the best of success wherever they choose to compete.

Around the oval. Mitchell Murrill rode three winners today. He captured the second race on Steady Rock, a 3-year-old filly owned by J and R Equine Corp., and trained by Javier Negrete. Murrill added the third on Kool Kate, a 5-year-old mare owned by Anthony Granitz and John Wallace and trained by Granitz.

Murrill completed his hat trick in the eighth race with Miss Mi Mi, a 4-year-old filly owned by Lee Ann Ingram and Orrin H. Ingram, II and trained by Michael Stidham.

Thoroughbred racing continues Saturday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:25 p.m. Additional cards for the 2018-2019 meeting are Sunday; Wednesday, May 1; Friday, May 3; Saturday, May 4; and Sunday, May 5, which is Fan Appreciation Day.

The meeting proper concludes on Sunday, June 30, which is also the first day of the two-day Summer Festival of Racing. The Monday, July 1 card is the first day of the 2019-2020 meeting, which is then expected to resume in late November.

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.

Two $100,000 stakes complement Run for the Roses card. Two $100,000 Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association stakes races on Saturday, May 4 – the FTBOA Silver Charm Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings and the FTBOA Ivanavinalot Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old fillies – have attracted 30 nominees.

Both races will be contested at a distance of a mile-and-40-yards. They are restricted to FTBOA-registered Florida-breds sired by an FTBOA-registered Florida stallion, and having paid all Florida Sire Stakes eligibility fees.

The Silver Charm drew 12 nominees, headed by Tracy Pinchin’s 3-year-old colt Jackson. He won the Florida Cup Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore Stakes here on March 31 and is 3-for-8 lifetime, with three seconds. Should he run, the Jose Pinchin-trained son of Kantharos would be making his first start traveling around two turns.

There are 18 fillies nominated to the Ivanavinalot, including Michael Dubb’s A Bit of Both, who is riding a three-race winning streak. The Jason Servis-trained sophomore won the 7-furlong Game Face Stakes on April 20 at Gulfstream in her most recent start.

Also nominated to the Ivanavinalot is stakes-winner Capture Your Dream, owned by Kathy Machesky and John C. Oxley and trained by Mark Casse.

Leading Oldsmar trainer Gerald Bennett nominated six horses to the two stakes. Past leading trainer Kathleen O’Connell, who is second in this season’s standings, nominated five.

The FTBOA Silver Charm Florida Sire Stakes and the FTBOA Ivanavinalot Florida Sire Stakes will be part of a 12-race card preceding the simulcast of the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve from Churchill Downs.