JORGE DELGADO IS TRAINER OF MONTH; TRACK CLOSED ON EASTER

by Mike Henry

Jorge Delgado believes his responsibility as a trainer extends beyond caring for the 43 Thoroughbreds he currently races at Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Park.

“My father trained in Venezuela for 17 years before he retired in 2003, and he got enough winners to carry the family,” said the 31-year-old Maracaibo product. “Now, he is living his dreams through me.”

Back home, the elder Jorge Delgado might have been pinching himself recently to determine if his son had actually won seven of 11 starts at Tampa Bay Downs, with four seconds, to earn the Salt Rock Tavern Trainer of the Month Award. While victories have proved harder to come by of late at Gulfstream, just about everything is falling into place when Delgado sends out a horse in Oldsmar.

“Of course you’re not going to win them all, but the harder you try, the better the results are going to be,” said Delgado, who devotes much of his time and energy to finding the best spots for his large stable of runners. “It’s very exciting, and I’m looking forward to trying to compete to be leading trainer (at Tampa Bay Downs) in the future.”

Delgado, who began training in the United States five years ago at Gulfstream, has won at the current Oldsmar meeting with such nice horses as 4-year-old Florida-bred stakes-winning gelding Willy Boi, 3-year-old Florida-bred colt Cyberviking and 3-year-old filly Sneaky Cheeky, who was claimed from an April 8 victory here for $20,000 by owner-trainer Juan Arriagada.

Willy Boi aired by 7 ½ lengths in 1:09.75 for 6 furlongs here on the April 8 card in an allowance/optional claiming event.

Delgado also conditions the stakes-winning 3-year-old Florida-bred colt Lightening Larry, who finished second at the meet in both the Inaugural Stakes and the Florida Cup Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore Stakes. Lightening Larry is being pointed for the Grade III, $200,000 Chick Lang Stakes on May 21 at Pimlico.

Willy Boi and Lightening Larry are both owned by the Lea Farms, LLC concern of Bill Cosgrove.

Delgado’s late grandfather Rafael was an owner in Venezuela, and Delgado never loses sight of the importance of having a strong working relationship with each of his owners. “I thank each and every one of them for supporting me and trusting me with their investment. That is a key to my success,” he said.

Delgado says he knew from the time he was 4 years old he was destined to be involved in Thoroughbred racing. “I’ve been in love with horses for as long as I can remember,” he said. “Being in my father’s barn at Santa Rita racetrack when I was growing up and watching the races. … it’s basically been in my blood forever.”

Delgado moved to the United States in 2013 and quickly climbed the ladder to following in his father’s footsteps. After a stint at Calder in Miami as a hotwalker and groom, he worked as an assistant under his uncle, south Florida-based trainer Gustavo Delgado, before going out on his own in the summer of 2017.

Delgado finished eighth in the winter meet at Gulfstream with 18 victories (one more than Bill Mott and Christophe Clement). His assistant Johan Aldana helps him manage the two strings, as they often pass each other during their travels between coasts.

Delgado plans to increase his presence at Tampa Bay Downs next season, and beyond. “It’s a very friendly atmosphere for the horses,” he said. “They love the surface and never seem to have any issues.”

In a relatively short period of time, Delgado has acquired the kind of horses that help to make each day an exciting adventure. “I live and breathe horses. I spend the whole day working in the barn or on the computer. … all I do is related to them,” he said. “And I’m blessed to have real good help, people who have the same drive and desire as I do to do things well.”

Around the oval. Jockey Ademar Santos was 2-for-2 today, giving him four victories from his last five mounts. Santos won the third race on El Fantasma, a 3-year-old gelding owned by Jose Maria Gonzalez and trained by Sharon Boland. Santos added the fifth race with It’s Fate, a 7-year-old gelding owned by Arthur O. Agostini and Henrik Lilius and trained by Steven Dye.

Thoroughbred racing continues Saturday with a 10-race card beginning at 12:15 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs is closed on Sunday for Easter. The Race Track Chaplaincy of America – Tampa Bay Downs Division will provide Easter lunches for backstretch workers and horsemen at 11 a.m. that day in the track kitchen. Chaplain Pete Crisswell will deliver an Easter message. All who attend will receive a free T-shirt.

Racing action then resumes on Wednesday, returning to the regular Wednesday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule through May 7, with the exception of May 1, which offers simulcasting only.

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.