CENTENO WIDENS LEAD IN STANDINGS BY RIDING THREE WINNERS

by Mike Henry

Daniel Centeno took another big step toward nailing down a record sixth Tampa Bay Downs jockeys title today by riding three winners.

The 45-year-old Venezuelan took advantage of the absence of his closest pursuer in the standings, Edwin Gonzalez, who was serving the final day of a five-day suspension for careless riding. Centeno now leads Gonzalez by an 87-75 margin with 11 days remaining in the 2016-2017 meeting.

Centeno, who last won the Oldsmar crown in 2012-2013, was aboard 5-year-old Florida-bred mare Turned Back Twice in the third race for owner Santulli Stable and trainer Giuseppe Santulli. Centeno stayed hot by winning the fourth race on the turf on Naval Commission, a 3-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Beverly S. Anderson and Edward A. Seltzer and trained by Ben Colebrook.

Naval Commission was claimed from the race by trainer Gary L. Johnson for new owner Cheryl McIntyre.

In the seventh race on the turf, Centeno and 6-year-old Florida-bred gelding Stormy Leaf held off a belated charge by Withjustasplash to win by a head. Stormy Leaf is owned by Lorelie Nixon and trained by Juan Arriagada.

Around the oval. Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Friday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:45 p.m. Maidens are in the spotlight, with three maiden special weight contests offering purses of $22,500: the third, fifth and eighth races.

Nine races are also on tap Saturday, including five scheduled for the turf course. Beginning on Saturday, Tampa Bay Downs will add a 50-cent Pick-5 wager starting with the first race to its betting menu, giving bettors two Pick-5s on cards with nine or fewer races.

In addition, Tampa Bay Downs will simulcast the Grade II, $1.25-million Charles Town Classic on Saturday from Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.

The eight-horse field for that event is headed by the Todd Pletcher-trained 5-year-old Stanford, who won the event last year. John Velazquez will be in town for the riding assignment. In his most recent race, the $100,000 Challenger Stakes on March 11 at Tampa Bay Downs, Stanford set a mile-and-a-sixteenth track record of 1:41.75 while dominating six rivals.

Approximate post time for the Charles Town Classic, which is the 11th race, is 5:35 p.m.

Tampa Bay Downs conducts racing each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the May 6-7 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands weekend, with the exception of May 3.

The Oldsmar oval will conduct its Summer Festival of Racing and Music on June 30 and July 1, with the first day of action wrapping up the 2016-2017 meeting and the second day serving as the beginning of the 2017-2018 meeting, which is then expected to resume in late November.

Otherwise, Tampa Bay Downs is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.