by Mike Henry

Considering her bloodlines, it really wasn’t much of a surprise to see 19-year-old apprentice jockey Ashley Castrenze win today’s fourth race on her first career mount.

Castrenze – the daughter of retired jockey Jackie Acksel and the late trainer, Charles Castrenze – turned in a near-flawless performance on Sister Pat, winning the five-furlong maiden claiming event for 3-year-old fillies by three-and-a-half lengths from Red Hot n’ Boom.

Sister Pat, which paid $3.60 to win as the wagering favorite, was making her second start for breeder-owner John M. Baker and trainer Tom Proctor. She was claimed from the race for $25,000 by trainer Alison Hassig for new owner Juan Arriagada.

Castrenze kept the daughter of Munnings in the clear after breaking from the outside No. 7 post and launched her bid approaching the quarter-mile pole. Sister Pat outclassed her foes under urging from Castrenze, who underwent the traditional initiation ceremony from her fellow riders afterward that left her a soaking, shaving cream-covered mess but no less ecstatic about the experience.

“I was so nervous today, especially with being the favorite,” said the 2015 graduate of nearby Tarpon Springs (Fla.) High, who rode show horses growing up. “But I’ve been galloping her and worked her a few times, and I had a lot of confidence in her. I thought she was the best horse in the race.

“Going down the stretch, when everyone else backed up and I hadn’t made my move yet, was a pretty good feeling. This means a lot to me because I’ve been waiting for today for over two years,” added Castrenze, who began working for Proctor at Tampa Bay Downs at the start of the 2014-2015 meeting as a gallop person and groom.

The 10-pound apprentice plans to go to Delaware Park this summer with agent John Weilbacher.

Castrenze had plans for after the race should she triumph. Proctor had asked her to cool off Sister Pat after the race on her way back to the test barn, but she was delayed for a few minutes by her initiation.

“Everyone was trying to hose me off and put shaving cream in my hair, and it was not easy. I had to change before I could get to the backside,” she said.

Castrenze wasn’t complaining. She may be 19, but she knows a jockey only gets initiated once.

“I wanted to wait until I knew I was ready to ride my first race, and Tom has really helped build my confidence,” she said. “He’s done everything to help get me ready for today.”

Down the stretch. Leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Antonio Gallardo won three races on today’s card, boosting his total for the meeting to 121 victories.

Gallardo won today’s first race on 7-year-old gelding Brother Pat (no relation to Sister Pat), which swept last year’s Tampa Turf Test starter handicap series for males. Owned by Oscar Diaz and trained by Victor Carrasco, Jr., Brother Pat was claimed from today’s victory for $16,000 by trainer Ron G. Potts for new owner The Elkstone Group.

Gallardo added the third race on the turf on 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding J V Three for breeder-owner Jud Van Worp and trainer Darien Rodriguez and the seventh race on the grass on 4-year-old gelding More On Tap for owner Lael Stables and trainer Arnaud Delacour.

Pablo Morales also rode two winners today. He piloted 3-year-old colt Wolf Rock to a nose victory in the fifth race on the turf for breeder-owner Gunpowder Farms and trainer William “Buff” Bradley. Morales added the eighth race on 3-year-old Florida-bred filly Meydenbauer Bay for owner-trainer William R. Helmbrecht.

Veteran jockey Manoel Cruz was transported to Mease Countryside Hospital complaining of back pain after being thrown from his mount at the start of the third race. The 3-year-old gelding, El Ganador, was unhurt. Cruz’s status is day-to-day.

Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Saturday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:42 p.m. The feature is the seventh race, a conditional allowance/$25,000 optional claiming event for horses 4-years-old-and-upward going five furlongs on the turf course.

The 5-2 morning-line favorite is Acclaimed Racing Stable’s 7-year-old Florida-bred gelding I Wanda Win, trained by Jamie Ness and to be ridden by Gallardo. The hard-knocking I Wanda Win is 11-for-52 lifetime with career earnings of $257,265, despite having competed only in maiden, claiming and allowance company.

Tampa Bay Downs connections will be active on the simulcast front. At Keeneland, the reigning Eclipse Champion Turf Female, Robert E. Masterson’s 5-year-old mare Tepin, winner here of both the Grade II Hillsborough Stakes and Grade III Lambholm South Endeavour, faces nine fillies and mares in the Grade I, $350,000 Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf.

Trained by Mark Casse and to be ridden by Julien Leparoux, Tepin is the 4-5 morning-line favorite. The Jenny Wiley is the 10th race on the Keeneland card.

Trainer Ian Wilkes is set to saddle his 7-year-old millionaire Neck ’n Neck in Keeneland’s Grade III, $200,000 Ben Ali Stakes for older horses at a mile-and-an-eighth on the main track. The Ben Ali is the seventh race.

Neck ’n Neck, which is fancied at 9-2 by the oddsmaker, will be ridden by Chris Landeros. The 7-year-old finished second in his most recent start, the $100,000 Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on March 12, and is a multiple graded-stakes winner, including the Grade II Indiana Derby in 2012.

Additionally, three Tampa Bay Downs trainers are represented in Keeneland’s eighth race, the $100,000 Giant’s Causeway Stakes for older fillies and mares at five-and-a-half furlongs on the grass. Roy S. Lerman trains the 3-1 morning-line favorite in the race, the 4-year-old filly Miss Matzoball, which will be ridden by Javier Castellano.

Miss Matzoball is 4-for-10 lifetime, including a victory March 12 in the Captiva Island Handicap at Gulfstream.

Oldsmar conditioner Arnaud Delacour will send out the 4-year-old filly Exaggerated, to be ridden by Leparoux. Exaggerated is 8-1. Joan Scott sends out 30-1 shot Maggiesfreuddnslip, a 6-year-old mare which will be ridden by Janelle Campbell.

Tampa Bay Downs 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.