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December 20, 2019

JOCKEY OF MONTH CAMACHO BALANCES CAREER, FATHERHOOD

by Mike Henry
Infant son David strengthens rider's resolve to be his best; Michael Stidham-trained 2-year-old filly Micheline one to watch; showdown between Imperial Hint and X Y Jet in Grade III Mr. Prospector at Gulfstream on Saturday to be simulcast here.

Samy Camacho is all business at the racetrack, where he strives to reward his connections with the best rides available while pursuing a second consecutive Tampa Bay Downs jockeys title.

But when he hangs up his tack for the day, Camacho transforms into a devoted family man, cherishing time spent with his wife, Kismar Torcat, and their four children.

His skill in the saddle and ability to balance his personal and professional lives make Camacho one of the most sought-after jockeys at the Oldsmar oval, where he is tied for third place in the standings through today’s action with 12 victories. His quick start to the season led to his selection as the Señor Tequila Mexican Grill Jockey of the Month.

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Samy Camacho

“He’s coming out every day and working hard, and he’s very focused,” said Mike Moran, his agent. “He seems happy about everything, and I like that he has a lot of confidence. Right now, every horse is running well for him.”

On his half-hour drives to and from the racetrack, Camacho takes time to reflect on his good fortune. Kismar gave birth on May 23 to a son, David, and with a 7-month-old craving his love and attention, Camacho embraces his roles of provider and caretaker. “I give him his pacifier, I feed him and I change him two or three times a day,” said the 31-year-old product of Caracas, Venezuela. “I have fun with it. I love my kids.

“I’m never mad when I get home because they all come to me and give me hugs and kisses,” Camacho said. “When I come home, I forget everything I did on the track. Business is business and home is home, and it is so special to be with my family.”

Besides David, Kismar and Samy have a 5-year-old son, Samir, and two children from her previous relationship: son Nelberth, 13, and daughter Nicole, 11. They comprise a support system that strengthens Camacho’s determination to perform to his full potential on a daily basis.

“Nelberth is always asking me how I did and wanting to talk about the races,” Camacho said. “Samir will tell me ‘Daddy, you’re going to win three races today,’ and it’s so funny when I’m able to go home and tell him I won three.

“I want to see my family happy and in good health, and coming home to them feels like a blessing.”

William Shakespeare wrote “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,” but Camacho shows no signs of being burdened with the heavy expectations of repeating last year’s title, when he rode 123 winners. It won’t come easily against the likes of six-time Oldsmar champion Daniel Centeno, four-time champ Antonio Gallardo, Pablo Morales, Jesus Castanon and newcomer Angel Suarez, but Camacho is primed for the challenge.

“I ride a lot of horses, and I’m learning something new every day,” said Camacho, whose exuberance for racing is often displayed in the winner’s circle. “I have a lot of confidence. I think I want to win the title more this year, because the competition is probably better and I have more hunger in myself.

“Everybody makes mistakes, but I know if I get mad after a race I might not ride my next horse as well as I should. Every race is important, and I have to focus and forget about everything in the past.”

Around the oval. Racing continues Saturday with a 10-race card beginning at 12:15. Tampa Bay Downs conducts its first Sunday card of the meeting the following day, with a nine-race program beginning at 12:45 p.m.

In today’s fifth race, a 1-mile turf allowance-optional claiming event for 2-year-old fillies, Godolphin homebred Micheline returned to her stakes-winning form of late summer, gobbling up the grass through the stretch to post a 1-length victory from Summer Clothes.

Micheline’s time for the race was 1:38.12 on a good turf course. Trained by Michael Stidham and ridden by Pablo Morales, Micheline – a daughter of Bernardini out of the Include mare Panty Raid – improved to 2-for-5, her first victory a score in the Sorority Stakes on the turf on Sept. 1 at Monmouth. She appears to be one to keep a close eye on.

Morales also won the ninth race on the turf, aboard 3-year-old filly Stormy D for owner-trainer John Rigattieri.

A pair of Tampa Bay Downs stakes winners, Florida-breds Imperial Hint and X Y Jet, are the headliners in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000, 7-furlong Mr. Prospector Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The race is the 10th on the card and will be simulcast at Tampa Bay Downs.

The 6-year-old Imperial Hint, a two-time Tampa Bay Downs Florida Cup Day stakes winner owned by Raymond Mamone and trained by Luis Carvajal, Jr., will be making his first start since winning the Grade I Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont on Sept. 28. Regular jockey Javier Castellano has the assignment.

Scratched from last month’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita with a blister on his coronet band, Imperial Hint has been training here for his return, cranking out three bullet workouts including a 5-furlong breeze in 59 seconds Sunday.

The 7-year-old gelding X Y Jet, who won the Pelican Stakes here in 2018, has not raced since his March 30 victory in the Group I Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored By Gulf News at Meydan Racecourse in the United Arab Emirates. Imperial Hint finished third in that race.

Owned by Rockingham Ranch, Gelfenstein Farm and David A. Bernsen LLC and trained by Jorge Navarro, X Y Jet will be ridden by Emisael Jaramillo.

Four other horses are entered.

Tampa Bay Downs will conduct its only Thursday card of the meeting on Dec. 26, which coincides with the start of the track’s “Calendar Giveaway” promotion. The 2020 edition of the calendar will be distributed throughout next weekend to the first 10,000 patrons, with paid admission. It includes photographs by some of the area’s top equine photojournalists, as well as key racing dates throughout the season.

On Saturday, Dec. 28, track announcer Richard Grunder kicks off his “Morning Glory Club Show” by interviewing first-year Tampa Bay Downs jockey Angel Suarez. The event begins at 10 a.m. on the first floor of the Grandstand. Admission is free, as are the coffee and donuts. The shows will continue each Saturday morning through March 7.

Tampa Bay Downs, which will primarily race on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule through May 3, is open every day except Christmas, Dec. 25 and Easter, April 12 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.