With Sights Set On Riding Title, Camacho Kicks Off Tampa Bay Meet With Opening-Day Triple

Gerald Bennett says there are several riders capable of winning the 2020-2021 riding  title at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar, Fla. But the perennial leading trainer thinks most of the track’s jockeys will spend a fair amount of time chasing Samy Camacho.

“He’s psyched up to get leading rider, and he knows this track because he’s been riding on it long enough. He’s going to be tough,” Bennett said.

The 32-year-old Camacho, who won the 2018-2019 championship, got off to an excellent start on Wednesday’s opening day card, riding three winners with a second and a third.

Today’s card marked the first time Tampa Bay Downs has conducted racing in front of spectators since March 15.

Camacho displayed determination, strength and patience in Wednesday’s performance. In the first race, an $8,000 claiming affair at a distance of a mile and 40 yards, he re-rallied 4-year-old gelding Campaign Spy for a nose victory from 3-5 favorite Jack B Winkle. Campaign Spy is owned by Rodney M. Miller and trained by Jon Arnett, who was making his first career start at Tampa Bay Downs.

Camacho added the third race on the turf aboard 2-year-old Florida-bred gelding Handsome Effort, waiting until the last possible moment in the one-mile, $16,000 claiming contest to urge the winner past Top Bomb by a head. Handsome Effort is owned by Foley Bloodstock and trained by Thomas D. Foley.

Another Camacho victory came in the fourth, a $5,000 claiming sprint, aboard 5-year-old Florida-bred gelding Perfetto for trainer Bennett and owner William MacKinnon.

Bennett said Camacho has learned the importance of not rushing horses approaching the stretch at Tampa Bay Downs, where experienced riders have been known to take advantage of an over-eager jockey by “floating” a charging horse and rider farther out to the middle of the track, blunting their rally.

“I started him out when he first came here (during the 2015-2016 meeting), and I told him you can’t override a horse coming around the turn because they’ll start spinning their wheels,” Bennett said. “That part (of the race) from the 3/8-mile pole to the quarter-mile pole, is where you hold your horse together, then move with them later.

“He’s getting this track down pat now, he’s competitive and you can see he’s having fun when he rides. Mike (Moran), his agent, was a good rider, and he’ll take Samy aside at the end of the day to talk about what happened.”

The meeting is just getting started, but Camacho has already served notice he’s laser-focused on staying at the top. “I think my confidence comes from experience,” Camacho said, “but I’m still learning a lot. I trust myself and I think I have a chance to win every race I ride.”

Of course, Camacho’s self-belief received a major boost when he won the Grade 2, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on King Guillermo in March.

“It feels great to win three races on opening day. I brought my family here today, and to have them here is a fantastic feeling,” he said. “I have to give all the thanks to my horses, the owners and the trainers, and my agent, who is working hard for me to be successful.”

Around the oval. Bennett won two races, also scoring in the second with 2-year-old Florida-bred filly R Averie Lynn. She is owned by Averill Racing and ATM Racing and was ridden by Tampa Bay Downs newcomer Roberto Alvarado, Jr.

In Wednesday’s featured eighth race, the Happy Thanksgiving Purse at 6 ½ furlongs on the main dirt track, 6-year-old Florida-bred gelding High Five Cotton staved off a threat from Expensive Style to post a ¾-length victory. The winner’s time was 1:16.44, less than a second off the track record.

The victory was the third in a row for High Five Cotton, who improved to 14-for-50 lifetime. Antonio Gallardo rode the winner for owner Bob Apicelli’s Carole Star Stables and trainer Jose H. Delgado.

Tampa Bay Downs is closed Thursday for Thanksgiving. Thoroughbred racing continues Friday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:47 p.m. The track currently races on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday schedule, with Sundays added to the mix on Dec. 20. Additionally, Tampa Bay Downs will conduct a Thursday card on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, and be closed Christmas, Dec. 25.

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

The post With Sights Set On Riding Title, Camacho Kicks Off Tampa Bay Meet With Opening-Day Triple appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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