HorseracingFLA Staff Report
With 26 race days left in its 2015-2016 meet, a big question at Tampa Bay Downs is whether jockey Antonio Gallardo will break the track record of 147 wins that he set last season.
Gallardo had one victory Sunday, on the 6-year-old gelding Fabulous Union in the eighth race at one mile on turf.
That was his 108th win through 65 days this meet.
Gallardo is on pace for 149 Tampa Bay wins this season. The regular portion of the meet will end May 7. The official closing day is June 30, the start of the track’s two-day Summer Festival of Racing.
Gallardo, a 28-year-old native of Spain, appears a virtual lock to win his third consecutive Tampa Bay Downs jockey championship.
Daniel Centeno, a five-time champion at Tampa Bay Downs, is second with 44 wins.
Rounding out the top five are Ronnie Allen, Jr., 58; Fernando De La Cruz, 55; and Manoel Cruz, 33.
Gallardo plans to return to Presque Isle Downs in search of a third consecutive title at the Erie, Pa., track upon the conclusion of the Tampa Bay meeting.
Tampa Bay’s next race day is Wednesday with ten races and first post of 12:25 p.m.
Gallardo has mounts in seven races. In the competition for second place the number of mounts are Allen with seven, Centeno with six and De La Cruz with five.
A good deal of suspense is gone from the trainer race as well, although many observers counted out Jamie Ness too soon last season before he won 28 races from his last 68 starters to overtake Gerald Bennett, 46-43.
Bennett has sent out 44 winners this season, 12 more than Ness. Kathleen O’Connell has 30 winners, followed by Dennis Ward with 18 and Dale Bennett and Arnaud Delacour with 17 apiece. Seven of Delacour’s winners have been first-time starters.
Ness, who has won nine consecutive Tampa Bay Downs training titles (tying with Gerald Bennett in 2010-2011 and O’Connell the year before that), has seen his number of starters decline since splitting up with long-time client Midwest Thoroughbreds.
But that is not to detract in any way from the masterful job being done by Bennett, who recently won with five consecutive starters and trains one of the standouts of the meeting in 4-year-old gelding Fast Flying Rumor. That horse earned a Tampa Bay Downs-record 108 Beyer Speed Figure for his Turf Dash Stakes victory on Jan. 9.
Bennett and Ness are 1-2 in winning percentage among Tampa Bay trainers with 30 or more starters – Bennett at 26.67 percent and Ness at 26.23 percent.
The Florida-bred Fast Flying Rumor, likely to make his next start in the $75,000 Hilton Garden Inn/Hampton Inn & Suites Sprint on Florida Cup Day April 9, is owned by the Winning Stables of Gerald Bennett and his wife Mary in partnership with the Midnight Rider outfit of Matt Ferris.
Winning Stables has posted 11 victories this meeting in various partnerships, but the official owner standings are determined by the entirety of each holding. Thus, Winning Stables is not among the top owners. The current leader in the owner race is the stable of Billy, Donna and Justin Hays. The husband, wife and son team has 12 victories.
Next are Rich and Karen Papiese’s Midwest Thoroughbreds and the Ness outfit of Jagger, Inc., with 10 each. Owner-trainer Jason DaCosta has nine and the Savoy Stable of John Santina has eight.
Chad Lindsay, who left last week for southern California, is the only apprentice jockey to have made an impact during the meeting. With 11 victories, he seems virtually assured of the crown.
Angel Serpa rode two winners on Sunday. He captured the first race on Shupanga, a 3-year-old colt owned by Dennis Farkas and Ian Wilkes. Serpa added the ninth aboard Emmy Who, an 8-year-old mare owned by Billy, Donna and Justin Hays and trained by Joe Woodard, who now has 1,499 career victories.
In the seventh race, the 8-year-old gelding National extended his winning streak to three races, capturing the mile-and-40-yard claiming event by a length from Serdynski. Ridden by Dean Butler, National is owned by Tom Abrahamson and trained by Randy “Red” Rarick.
–Photo on home page by Barry Unterbrink