OLDSMAR — A kick to the chest from a thoroughbred and a three-horse spill sent jockey Daniel Centeno to the hospital twice in January. Each time, he avoided serious injury.
This afternoon Centeno will be aboard Kentucky Derby and Preakness runner Musket Man for the horse's 4-year-old debut in the $75,000 Super Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
This is the second time Centeno has ridden Musket Man. He won't forget the first: a Grade III Tampa Bay Derby victory in 2009, the first graded stakes win in the career of Oldsmar's top jockey.
Musket Man trainer Derek Ryan, who conditions the Yonaguska colt for owners Erie Fein and Vic Carlson, said it's time for his horse to get going again. "He's 90 percent ready, (it's) his first race back, and hopefully (he is ready) for another good year."
Musket Man, who also won the Grade II Illinois Derby and Pasco Stakes in 2009, hasn't raced since finishing third in the Preakness, 1 1/2 lengths behind horse of the year Rachel Alexandra, on May 16. He was third in the Kentucky Derby, beaten by Mine That Bird.
After dealing with what Ryan called "some wear and tear" after the Preakness, Musket Man went to Vinery in Ocala for rest.
A winner of five of eight career starts and $893,600 in purse earnings, Musket Man drew the outside No. 8 post in the 7-furlong Super (Race 10, 4:37 p.m.).
Musket Man's future may include the Grade I $600,000 Metropolitan Handicap on May 31 at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y, and the Breeders' Cup World Championships on Nov. 5-6 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
Ryan said Musket Man probably would have entered last year's Breeders' Cup had it not been for the synthetic Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. His prep would have been the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.
The week at the Downs had a tragic start. Exercise rider Robert Shields, 60, died when Gael Lea, a 3-year-old he was working with, tumbled on the backside and crushed him Monday morning.
MORE HORSES: Jockey Luis Gonzalez returns Wednesday after serving a 10-day suspension for careless riding. His actions led to a spill Jan. 24 that involved Centeno. … Tom Proctor trainee Tight Precision won the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf on Jan. 30 at Santa Anita Park. … Gulfstream Park has two Grade I races, the $500,000 Donn Handicap (Race 10, 5:45 p.m.) and $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (Race 9, 5:18 p.m.), at Hallandale Beach.
GREYHOUNDS: Kiowa Trent Tira of Patriot Kennel clocked a season's best time of 30.15 seconds at 550 yards Jan. 30 at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg.