Many of Antonio Gallardo’s victories at Tampa Bay Downs this meeting have resulted from employing supreme patience.
After riding three winners today to tie Daniel Centeno’s single-season Oldsmar victory mark of 144, Gallardo doesn’t mind waiting a little longer.
“Every time I win I feel good, and it’s a good feeling to win three races today and to only need one more to set the record,” said the 27-year-old Spaniard, who clinched a second consecutive track title weeks ago. “I feel happy to have tied it, because it is a difficult record to achieve.
“Every other jockey in a race wants to win, and even when I’m on the best horse it isn’t easy because you’re the one everyone else is watching,” he said. “I’m always trying to beat (what he perceives to be) the best horse, too. That’s the game.”
Fittingly, five-time track riding champion Centeno deprived Gallardo of establishing a new mark by winning the ninth and 10th races (it should be noted Gallardo finished third in both).
Centeno, who is second in the standings with 87 victories, won the ninth on the turf on 3-year-old colt Flashy Chelsey for owner Bruce McCrea and trainer Robert R. O’Connor, II and captured the 10th on 4-year-old filly Benne First Baby, the heavy favorite, for owner Amaty Racing Stables and trainer Sandino R. Hernandez, Jr.
Gallardo is named on eight horses on Saturday’s 10-race card, and if you asked 20 people, 21 would consider him a sure thing to get No. 145 today. But he still has to do it.
Gallardo, who has won on eight of his 17 mounts over the last three racing days, captured today’s first race on 6-year-old Florida-bred mare Lil Nate’s Date for owner-trainer Christos Gatis.
Gallardo’s next two victories were for trainer Jamie Ness, helping the 40-year-old conditioner assume a stranglehold on the top spot in his bid to win an unprecedented ninth consecutive track training crown. Ness has 46 victories for the meeting, five more than runner-up Gerald Bennett.
In the fifth race on the turf, Gallardo was aboard 4-year-old gelding Cut to Order for Ness and owner Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc. Gallardo won the eighth on 3-year-old gelding On Spirit River for Ness and the trainer’s Jagger, Inc., operation, which co-owns the Florida-bred with Curt Kobza.
Cut to Order’s victory enabled Midwest Thoroughbreds to keep its lead in the track’s owner standings, 23-22, from Amaty Racing Stables.
Also today, apprentice jockey Luis Figueroa nursed Iamagem’s speed on the front end to win the sixth race from Skyfirm by three-quarters of a length. The winning 3-year-old filly is owned by Lady Luck Stable and trained by Gatis.
At 31-1 and 53-1, the top two finishers were the longest shots in the race, and the $2 exacta combination of 3-8 paid $922. Fellow apprentice jockey Janelle Campbell rode Skyfirm. Figueroa now leads Campbell 13-12 in the track’s apprentice standings.