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LEADING OWNERS RACE VERY TIGHT; SPIETH STUCK ON 4,998
Published Apr 21, 2024
by Mike Henry
With seven racing days left in the 2023-2024 Tampa Bay Downs meet, suspense remains in the competition for Leading Jockey and Leading Owner. First, in the Leading Trainer competition, Kathleen […]

With seven racing days left in the 2023-2024 Tampa Bay Downs meet, suspense remains in the competition for Leading Jockey and Leading Owner.

First, in the Leading Trainer competition, Kathleen O’Connell has 48 winners and an insurmountable lead from Gregg Sacco, Jose Francisco D’Angelo and Gerald Bennett, all with 30. The title will be O’Connell’s third at the Oldsmar oval and her first since 2009-2010, when she tied with Jamie Ness for the top spot.

The track’s top two apprentice jockeys, Gabriel Maldonado and Melissa Iorio, have impressed horsemen and fans far and wide with their professionalism and ability to get the most from their mounts. Maldonado will win the Leading Apprentice trophy – he is third in the overall standings with 48 winners, 15 more than Iorio – but the bottom line is the widespread hope both will return here for future meets.

Leading jockeys Samy Camacho and Antonio Gallardo have slowed the last three weeks, at least compared to what they’re accustomed to. Both have won eight races during that time span. So the “smart” money – if there is such a thing in this type of competition – remains on Camacho, who leads 79-71, to win his fourth title in a row and fifth in the last six seasons.

The battle for Leading Owner is the tightest of all. Victories achieved in partnership with other owners count the same as those achieved as sole entities, and unofficially, defending champion Juan Arriagada, with 24, is two ahead of the Jagger Inc. operation of Jamie Ness.

You know what Yogi Berra said. … it ain’t over until. …

Around the oval. Since winning aboard 4-year-old Florida-bred filly Immortallove here on Feb. 17 for his wife, trainer Aldana Spieth, jockey Scott Spieth has endured a succession of close calls in his quest to score the two remaining victories he needs to get to 5,000 for his career.

He’s finished second eight times during that time span, and three have been of the photo-finish variety, including aboard Aldana’s Dreaming of Kona on March 30 in the Sir Shackleton Stakes at Gulfstream Park and in today’s seventh race on the turf, where his charge up the rail on Mission Key was denied by a neck by Winning Factor.

As long as he keeps reminding himself the hard part was getting to 4,998, Spieth should be fine, even as his supporters struggle for the right things to say as he strives to become only the 35th jockey in North American history to reach the milestone.

“Not bad for a 9-1 shot, right?” Spirth said after the seventh. “I’m not frustrated by it. I’m down here helping my wife and riding what I can, and it will come. I’m not worried about getting there.”

Spieth is named on two horses Wednesday and four on Friday. Five of the six are trained by Aldana, so the storyline is appealing, but as Scott has known since he entered the business in 1986, sentiment is in short supply in the jockeys’ room.

Pablo Morales and Melissa Iorio each rode two winners today. Morales captured the first race, the Cody’s Original Roadhouse Race of the Week on the turf, on Benvolio, a 3-year-old colt owned by Abel Rangel and trained by Hernan Parra. Morales added the third with Noble Tess, a 4-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Ridenjac Racing and Larry Gourneau, Jr., and trained by Robert G. Smith.

Both of Iorio’s victories came on longshots trained by Gerald Bennett. She won the fifth race on the turf on 10-1 shot Crafty King, a 4-year-old gelding owned by Team Equistaff. The next Iorio-Bennett collaboration came in the eighth with 14-1 Creativperformance, a 3-year-old filly owned by Ad Hoc Stable.

Thoroughbred racing continues Wednesday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:25 p.m. 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.

 

  

With seven racing days left in the 2023-2024 Tampa Bay Downs meet, suspense remains in the competition for Leading Jockey and Leading Owner. First, in the Leading Trainer competition, Kathleen […]

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