FIRSTS ON THE FIRST FOR JOCKEY CHAD LINDSAY, TRAINER BOOTS YANEZ

by Mike Henry

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Keiber Coa, left, helps initiate Chad Lindsay to the club


If Chad Lindsay ever gets into boxing, he’ll need to learn a lot about ducking, bobbing and weaving.

The 22-year-old Fort Worth, Texas native was thoroughly initiated by his fellow jockeys after his first career victory today aboard 5-year-old gelding Invasion Point. Lindsay, making only his fourth start, was doused with a bucket of ice water, sprayed with a hose, smeared with shaving cream and blanketed by baby powder.

He emerged from the ritual accorded every first-time winning rider eager for the next challenge. “It was awesome,” said Lindsay, who works as an exercise rider for Ian Wilkes. “Getting all that powder in my eyes was probably the worst part, but it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it.”

Lindsay was a late replacement for fellow apprentice Eduardo Gallardo, who has moved his tack to Turfway Park in Kentucky.

Invasion Point broke alertly, led all the way and finished strong for a four-length victory from Charles Russell in the mile-and-40-yard claiming event, the sixth race on the card. Invasion Point, owned by Ridenjac Racing and trained by Dennis Ward, paid $12.80 to win.

“We broke out of the gate good and went easy all the way around,” Lindsay said. “When we turned for home, I just let him go. I was pretty confident the whole way.”

Another “first” on the first day of the first month of 2016 came two races earlier, when Karen “Boots” Yanez won her first race as a trainer. Married 29 years to Moises Yanez, a long-time fixture on the Illinois racing circuit, she serves as his assistant, breaking the couple’s young horses for their clients at their Del Sol Farm in Ocala.

“It feels nice, because this is one of my favorite horses and she loves this track,” Boots Yanez said after 7-year-old mare Brewmistress and jockey Manoel Cruz surged past the competition to win the fourth race at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf by three lengths from Miss Well Molded. “We’ve had her since she was a baby.”

The victory by Brewmistress came in Yanez’s 10th official start. Her husband has trained almost 1,500 winners, but chose to take a break this winter, handing the training reins to Boots. Brewmistress, which paid $10.40 to win, was bred in Illinois by her owners, Sharon and Gordon W. Bredeson and Pete Mattson. The victory was the daughter of Milwaukee Brew’s sixth lifetime and third in six starts on the Tampa Bay Downs turf course.

Down the stretch. Jose Ferrer, tied for second place in the Tampa Bay Downs standings, is the Hilton Garden Inn Jockey of the Month. The 51-year-old native of Santurce, Puerto Rico has 3,994 career victories and believes he is riding as well as ever.

His inspiration comes largely from his family: wife Steffi, their 16-month-old son Derek and Joseph, who is due in a few weeks. “This is a very exciting time of my life right now. God has given me the strength to continue this journey, and I feel as if all the pieces are together in my life. I’m probably going to ride three or four more years, and as my kids get older I want to show them what I accomplished.”

Ferrer’s adrenaline skyrocketed before the start of a recent two-turn race when he glanced through the starting gate and saw Steffi and Derek near the outside rail, captivated by the scene. “He (Derek) was kicking his legs and acting all fired up,” Ferrer said. “I think it was the first time he really saw me come out of the gate. That was pretty neat.”

Ferrer is tied with five-time Tampa Bay Downs jockey champion Daniel Centeno with 12 victories apiece. His 20.3-percent strike rate is second-best among jockeys with at least 20 mounts, and he is within range of becoming the 68th jockey to reach the coveted 4,000 mark. His cousin, still-active Charles C. “Chuckie” Lopez, is 60th, approaching 4,200.

“A lot of my friends who have retired tell me ‘If you get a chance, keep your white pants on and keep enjoying it,’ because after that it’s kind of a different life,” Ferrer said. “I feel great, and I’m going to keep going as long as the man upstairs gives me health.”

His agent, Steve Worsley, isn’t having much trouble selling Ferrer’s services to top trainers.

“As far as his physical condition goes, he is one of the fittest guys in the jockeys’ room. When you combine that with his experience, that’s a tough combination to beat,” Worsley said.

Ferrer placed sixth at Monmouth Park last summer with 41 winners, and he won the month-long Meadowlands meeting title with eight victories. Among his 26 graded-stakes victories was a Grade I score on Stormy Pick in the 2000 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga for owner Raymond Dweck and trainer Ben Perkins, Jr. That came five days after Ferrer won the Grade II, $350,000 Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park aboard Rize.

The way he is riding, graded-stakes triumph No. 27 hardly seems out of reach. “When you get older, you learn to appreciate things more,” Ferrer said. “I’m a little smarter now and pumped up to keep going.”

Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Saturday with a 10-race card beginning at 12:28 p.m. The feature race is the eighth, a $23,000 conditional allowance at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward. The morning-line favorite at 3-1 is 4-year-old Pramedya, making her first start since April. Owned by Lael Stables and trained by Arnaud Delacour, she will be ridden by Daniel Centeno.

Tampa Bay Downs conducts racing each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The track is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.