By Monique Welch
Tampa Bay Downs is home to many great veteran jockeys and trainers, such as Daniel Centeno and Gerald Bennett who have early leads in wins this season.
But newcomer jockeys like Angel Cruz, Edwin Gonzalez and Albin Jimenez are showing early potential that they are ready to start their own legacies.
Cruz (on left in photo on home page) and Gonzalez have ridden three winners each through Saturday, the eighth day of the meet. Jimenez added his fourth win on Saturday.
The highlight of the day was the sixth race that belonged to the new school with Cruz’s one-length victory over Centeno.
Cruz rode the 8-5 favorite Conscription, and Centeno was on board the 5-2 second betting choice Tyrannical in the eight-horse field. Both are three-year old fillies.
The race was an allowance with a $22,500 purse at 1 1/16 miles on turf for fillies and mares three-years-old and up.
It was no surprise that Centeno and Tyrannical were in control of the race, setting the pace and leading from the start and into the stretch.
Conscription was in seventh place after three-quarters of a mile. Cruz then displayed his competitiveness and rallied for the win with Conscription.
In his recent races, Conscription has always been a great finisher. On Saturday, it landed him and his jockey a victory over Tampa Bay’s leading jockey.
The winning time was 1:42.61 on the course listed as firm.
Graham Motion trains Conscription for her owner and breeder Pin Oak Stud I Kentucky.
Cruz, who is 21, won the 2015 spring meeting title at Aqueduct and was a finalist for an Eclipse Award as Outstanding Apprentice Jockey in 2014 and 2015.
Another new jockey showing early signs of success is Gonzalez who on Dec. 3 won the Sandpiper Stakes with R Angel Katelyn. Bennett trains R Angel Katelyn, a two-year-old filly.
Needless to say, Bennett and Centeno still have an advantage of experience on their side and no one expects either of them to slow down anytime soon.
But the new additions to the jockey colony have definitely sparked the competition, and will make the veterans work hard every race.
Centeno went two for three for the day, winning with Bennett’s 4-year-old gelding Inaswagger in the first race and Lighthouse Sound in the fourth race.
Lighthouse Sound is trained by Darien Rodriguez and owned by Anthony Borruso. Inaswagger is owned by Averill Racing, Silver Oak Stable and CCF Racing Stable.
Centeno leads jockeys with 11 wins, and is followed by three other Tampa Bay veterans.
Fernando De La Cruz has six victories. Ronald Allen Jr. and Samy Camacho have five wins and are tied for third place.
Centeno has led Tampa Bay jockeys in wins five times. most recently at the 2012-2013 meet.
Since them Antonio Gallardo has won the last three jockeys’ championships at Tampa Bay.
This winter, Gallardo is riding at Gulfstream Park, competing against some of the top jockeys in the country. Through Sunday, he has two wins in 35 starts.
Gerald Bennett leads Tampa Bay trainers with twelve wins. Four trainers have three wins and are tied for second place.
One is his son Dale Bennett. The others are Chad Stewart, Kathleen Demasi and Robert Raymond.
Tampa Bay Downs will resume racing on Wednesday with nine races and first post of 12:25 p.m.
Next Saturday, Dec. 17, it will have the $100,000 Lightning City Stakes at five furlongs on turf for fillies and mares three-years-old and up.
We look forward to seeing you then, and as always stay tuned to this website and our blog for all the latest updates and news coverage on thoroughbred racing in Florida.
NOTE—Saturday’s sixth race was the Lambholm South race of the week. Margo Flynn (center), Tampa Bay Downs vice president of marketing and publicity, is shown presenting a Lambholm South banner to the connections of Conscription. They are jockey Angel Cruz and assistant trainer Cat McGee.