by Mike Henry


Samy Camacho

Despite falling behind Ademar Santos in the $5,000 Jockeys’ Challenge points standings early Saturday on the second day of the Summer Festival of Racing and Music, defending champion Samy Camacho’s belief that he could take home the top prize of $2,500 never wavered.

“My faith in God helped pull me through,” said the 29-year-old Camacho, who won the second race on the turf on 3-year-old filly Elite Heir and finished second or third on six of his other seven mounts. “My family is here today, and that kept me feeling happy and positive, too.”

Today’s card kicked off the 2017-2018 Oldsmar meeting, which is scheduled to resume on Saturday, Nov. 25.

Total all-sources handle over the two days was $4,075,337. And while horses and jockeys delivered a sterling show, the main attraction of this afternoon were the Corgis, who competed after the Thoroughbreds in front of more than 3,000 fans lined up along the rail.

The champion Corgi dog was Louie, a 2-year-old owned by Kelsey Brandt and David Overton of St. Petersburg, who edged Kira in the championship heat. More coverage of the Corgis can be found on the track’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Camacho will stick with the horses for the foreseeable future.

“The better I do here, the more business I can pick up from owners and trainers,” said Camacho, who currently is based at Gulfstream Park. “I feel great about this weekend, and I’ll be looking forward to coming back here in the fall.”

More and more bettors are gaining confidence in the native of Venezuela, who finished sixth in the 2016-2017 Oldsmar standings with 47 victories. He rallied to beat Santos, who won the Jockeys’ Challenge in 2014 and 2015, with 93 points, 12 more than the Brazilian, who took second-place money of $1,500.

Pedro Monterrey, Jr., and Mike Allen tied for third with 71 points and will split the $1,000 third-place prize. Allen won on five of his 10 mounts over the two days, notching three victories today.

Allen won the third race on the turf on 4-year-old Florida-bred filly Ella’s Dreaming for trainer Ian Hemingway; the fourth on 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding Spectacularwarrior for conditioner Kathleen O’Connell; and the seventh on the turf on 8-year-old horse Smart and True for trainer Dennis Ward.

In today’s Quarter Horse race, held before the Thoroughbred card, the 4-year-old Florida-bred sorrel gelding Teller Time rallied to edge Schweinsteiger by a neck in 15.21 seconds for the 300-yard distance. Owned by Jose L. Ramirez and trained by Kenneth Westlye, Teller Time was ridden by Federico Mata.

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.