by Mike Henry

Samy Camacho has been performing like a man on a mission over the last six racing days at Tampa Bay Downs.

Camacho, who won last year’s Oldsmar riding title with 111 victories, has ridden far more horses this season than any other jockey, a tribute to the rider’s skills and athleticism as well as the hustling of his agent, Mike Moran.

And since many of the track’s higher-percentage trainers like using Camacho, the winners are inevitably starting to pile up.


Samy Camacho

The 33-year-old Caracas, Venezuela product rode four winners today, giving him 35 for the meet – eight ahead of runner-up Pablo Morales. More notably, Camacho has 14 victories from his last 40 mounts, with 12 seconds and five thirds.

That serious run of success includes a victory last Saturday for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott with the 3-year-old Florida-bred filly Outfoxed in the $125,000 Gasparilla Stakes.

Camacho’s most exciting victory today came in the seventh race on the turf, a 1-mile maiden special weight race for 3-year-olds. Refusing to accept defeat, Camacho kept scrubbing on the Chad Brown-trained first-time starter Napoleonic War, pushing the colt into a dead-heat with another first-time starter, trainer Christophe Clement’s colt Seigneur, ridden by Hector Rafael Diaz, Jr.

“I thought I lost it when I crossed the wire, and I was a little mad because I knew he was better than the other horses in the race,” Camacho said. “He was a little bit hyper in the gate, just playing around, and when the doors opened he propped up and lost the break. The pace was slow and I was on heels all the way, but when I asked him he came flying.

“I think that horse wins by 5 lengths if he doesn’t miss the break, but I kept trying and we got a dead-heat. When I ride for Chad Brown, I feel like I’m driving a Rolls-Royce,” Camacho said.

Camacho began today’s card with victories in his first two tries. He won the second race on Mystery Mo, a 4-year-old gelding owned by Averill Racing and trained by Gerald Bennett. Camacho returned to the winner’s circle after the third race with Berhanu, a 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Chuncho Bravo Stable & Farm and trained by Javier Morzan.

In the sixth race, Camacho helped 4-year-old Florida-bred filly Cajun Spice earn her first career victory for owners Karyn Philipp and Tage Boohit. Philipp is the trainer.

Camacho also had a second and a fourth on today’s card.

Almost two-thirds of the meet remains for Morales, five-time champion Antonio Gallardo and Fernando De La Cruz to carve into Camacho’s lead in the standings. But as long as Camacho stays healthy and keeps believing in himself, his rivals will be hard-pressed to prevent him from a successful defense.

“I feel great. I have a lot of confidence in myself and Mike Moran,” Camacho said. “I feel happy when I get to ride a lot of horses, because I have more chances to win more races.”

Around the oval. Hector Rafael Diaz, Jr., rode three winners today. In addition to his dead-heat victory on Seigneur, he captured the first race on Lord Berrier, a 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by DiBello Racing and trained by Kathleen O’Connell. Diaz added the fifth with a silky-smooth effort on the turf on Origo, a homebred racing for owners Wertheimer and Frere and trained by H. Graham Motion.


Tampa Bay Downs Cap

Saturday is “Cap Giveaway Day,” with all fans receiving a 2022 cap (with paid admission) sporting the distinctive Tampa Bay Downs logo on the front and the Lambholm Racing Club logo adorning the sides. Whether you have been collecting the caps for years or are looking for a stylish way to display your love for Thoroughbred racing on Florida’s west coast, it’s a nice addition to your wardrobe.

Saturday’s 10-race card, which begins at 12:15 p.m., includes the second leg of the Tampa Turf Test starter handicap series for males racing a mile-and-a-sixteenth. It will be contested as the eighth race. There are 13 entered, with10 permitted to run.

The morning-line 5-2 favorite is 6-year-old gelding Dazzling Truths, who won the first leg at a distance of a mile on Jan. 1. Pablo Morales will ride Dazzling Truths for owners Sabal Racing Stable and Patrick Rhodes and trainer Darien Rodriguez.

Tampa Bay Downs races on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule, with the exception of Easter Sunday, April 17, when the track is closed.

Otherwise, the Oldsmar oval 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.