Racing News


by Mike Henry

It’s official: Samy Camacho has wrapped up his third Tampa Bay Downs jockeys title in the last four seasons.

With six days remaining in the 2021-2022 meet (plus the June 30 card, which is the official last day of the season as well as the first day of the annual two-day Summer Festival of Racing), Camacho has 85 victories, 14 more than Pablo Morales.


Samy Camacho

Camacho, who rode two winners today, plans to ride here through Friday before heading to New Jersey to compete at Monmouth Park, which begins its spring-summer season on May 7. Today was Morales’s last day here; he plans to spend next week with his family before heading to Presque Isle Downs in pursuit of his eighth title at the Erie, Pa., track.

The difference here, to some degree, was opportunity. Camacho has ridden more than 450 horses at Tampa Bay Downs, by far the most of any jockey, under the guidance of his agent, Mike Moran. Morales’s 320 mounts are third-most, but his colony-leading 22-percent strike rate wasn’t enough to make up the difference.

Like a coach who keeps handing the football to his star running back throughout the game, Moran secured Camacho lots of business, knowing the jockey would let him know if he started getting tired.

“It feels good to win again,” said Camacho, who triumphed in 2018-2019 with 123 winners and last season with 111. “Mike Moran and I have good communication, and he helps me in everything I do. When I was a kid (in Venezuela) I watched the races from the United States and had the dream to come to this country and be a jockey. It’s still hard to believe that I’m doing it.

“In a way it was easier this year, because I have more experience and more confidence in myself. But there is a lot of competition here and a lot of different jockeys have been winning races, so that made it tougher,” Camacho said.

Camacho, who has 993 career victories, will receive his Leading Jockey trophy in a winner’s-circle presentation Friday.

Camacho and Moran’s other rider, Fernando De La Cruz (third in the standings with 62 winners), will be joining the Monmouth colony after spending recent summers elsewhere: Camacho at Gulfstream Park and De La Cruz in Indiana at the track now called Horseshoe Indianapolis.

“A lot of trainers from my country and from here asked me to go to New Jersey,” Camacho said.

Camacho said Gulfstream management’s plans to install a new turf course this summer played into his decision, but at 33, he believes he needs to expand his horizons to raise his profile in the sport and get better chances to ride high-caliber stakes horses.

“I want to keep growing as a jockey and I want to take the chance in the future to try Gulfstream in the winter or New York or California, any track with big horses that have a chance to get to the Kentucky Derby or the Breeders’ Cup. That’s what every jockey wants,” Camacho said.

Camacho won today’s sixth race on El Samuro, a 5-year-old horse owned by Infinity Racing Stable and trained by Rafael Romero. He added the ninth and final race on the turf aboard Barberini, a 3-year-old gelding bred and owned by Rhianon Farms and trained by Arnaud Delacour.

Meanwhile, Gerald Bennett is on the verge of clinching his seventh consecutive Oldsmar training title and eighth overall. He has 32 training victories, eight more than Rafael Schistl.

Madeline Rowland is the runaway leader in the apprentice jockey race with 25 winners. She won today’s second race on Ideal Breeze, a 4-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Heehaw Racing and trained by Kathleen Guciardo.

The owners’ race is even at the top, with the Endsley Oaks Farm operation of Bob and Jill Jones and owner-trainer Juan Arriagada (alone and in a single partnership) possessing 22 victories apiece.

Around the oval. In today’s eighth race, the Cody’s Original Roadhouse Race of the Week, 4-year-old colt Winfromwithin showed the form that made him a course record-setter last year. He took command in the stretch of the 7-furlong, main-track allowance/optional claiming event, then turned back a serious challenge from Gran Runner for a half-length victory.

Winfromwithin’s time was an excellent 1:22.25. Hector Rafael Diaz, Jr., rode the son of Into Mischief for owner Lea Farms, LLC and trainer Jorge Delgado.

Winfromwithin, now 3-for-9, won last year’s Columbia Stakes here at a mile on the turf in record time of 1:33.23 while trained by Todd Pletcher. He finished third in his next start, the Grade II American Turf Stakes presented by Derby City Gaming at Churchill Downs, and has changed hands twice since. This was his first victory in four starts since the Columbia.

Thoroughbred racing continues Wednesday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:40 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs conducts racing on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through May 7, with the exception of Sunday, May 1, when the Thoroughbred action is limited to simulcasting..

Otherwise, the track 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.