Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Sports

Jockey Centeno approaching Tampa Bay Downs record

RECOMMENDED READING


OLDSMAR — On a scale of 10, Daniel Centeno gives himself a "7 or 8."

Considering the 41-year-old jockey will set a modern-day record at Tampa Bay Downs when the meet concludes May 5, some fans may believe he is being too hard on himself.

Centeno has virtually clinched his fifth riding title at the Downs. His numbers won't be as flashy as when he won four consecutive titles from 2007-10, but this crown will carry extra weight. In records documented since 1980 at the 87-year-old track, Centeno will be the only five-time champion. Ronnie Allen Jr. — sidelined with injuries sustained in an April 10 spill — and William Henry each recorded four titles in that span.

Centeno's place in the history book was secured this week when his closest challenger, Fernando De La Cruz, left town. De La Cruz rides Good Lord today in the Grade III $200,000 Texas Mile at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie. Centeno leads in wins 83-75.

"It's exciting to be the leading rider, and it's one of the goals that you really want," Centeno said. "I got lucky, and I didn't have any injuries. Actually, I didn't think about (the title) at the beginning. There are new jockeys every year. They are good riders, they know what they're doing, and you're more comfortable in the races with them. Better riders mean the races are better, which is good for us (jockeys) and good for the gambling."

Centeno, who leads in purse earnings with more than $1.2 million, won three stakes races: the $50,000 Manatee (Spectacular Sky), the $75,000 Sophomore Turf (Boy of Summer) and the $75,000 Turf Classic (Hobbs), the latter pair on Florida Cup Day. That raised Centeno's stakes victories at Oldsmar to 28 since arriving in 2004-05. During his reign of four consecutive crowns, Centeno averaged 135 wins and more than $1.8 million in purses annually. He set track records in 2007-08 with 144 wins and more than $2.1 million in purse earnings.

This will be Centeno's sixth title overall. The other came in 2010 at Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pa. His agent is Mike Moran.

"I've been riding for 23 years and I love it," said Centeno, whose father, Enrique, trained boxers and worked with horses. "I have no idea what I'd do (without horses)."

The Caracas, Venezuela, native has been one of the go-to riders for trainer Jamie Ness, who has wrapped up a seventh consecutive title at the Downs. This summer, the duo will team up at Delaware Park in Stanton, where Centeno finished third last year in the standings.

"Jamie knows where to run the horses, and he's got that big owner (Midwest Thoroughbreds), which helps a lot," Centeno said.

The Westchase resident plans to return to the Downs next season.

"I've got my house here, not even five minutes from the track," Centeno said. "My life is here, and I love Tampa."

Comments

Call Missouri jinxed, but Michael Porter Jr. injury is its own story

Please repeat after me: There is no such thing as jinxes, hexes, ghosts or cartoonish black clouds looming with personalized curses for select targets.Honest.But, boy, are there coincidences — even if some say there is no such thing as those, either....
Updated: 4 hours ago

Giants are NFL’s most disappointing team this season, but Broncos are close

The New York Giants made the playoffs for the first time in four years last season under the guidance of coach Ben McAdoo, setting high expectations for the 2017 campaign. They pushed those expectations even higher with the addition in free agency of...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Cambridge Christian’s Caleb Young makes up for lost season

Cambridge Christian’s Caleb Young makes up for lost season

TAMPA — For Cambridge Christian, last Friday’s Class 2A region final against Indian Rocks Christian represented a hurdle that the Lancers couldn’t quite clear a year ago. For one Lancer in particular, it was the Golden Eagles themselves that brought ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs journal: Defense struggling to get off the field on third and long

Bucs journal: Defense struggling to get off the field on third and long

TAMPA — Third and long, normally an ideal situation for an NFL defense, continues to be a problem as the Bucs try to get opposing offenses off the field.In the second half of Sunday’s game, the Dolphins converted six third downs when they needed 8 ya...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Browns welcome Gordon to practice

Browns welcome Gordon to practice

CLEVELAND — Every day he stays committed and sober, Josh Gordon takes another step toward playing again in the NFL. The long walk and wait are nearly over. The wide receiver, who squandered millions in potential earnings and derailed a promising care...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs-Falcons: Has this former Buc become a pass-rushing force?

Bucs-Falcons: Has this former Buc become a pass-rushing force?

TAMPA — The Bucs face the defending NFC champions twice in their final six games. As they prepare to go to Atlanta on Sunday, former Tampa Bay first-round pick Adrian Clayborn is enjoying quite a two-week run.Clayborn, 29, had six sacks Nov. 12 in a ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Fennelly: USF-UCF rivalry needs more than directional disrespect

Fennelly: USF-UCF rivalry needs more than directional disrespect

TAMPA — It’s the biggest football game in USF history.It’s two days and 90 miles away. USF at UCF. The 9-1 Bulls against the 10-0 Knights. It’s USF coach Charlie Strong against UCF/Florida/Nebraska coach Scott Frost. It’s the best these two programs ...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Chip Kelly is not the best candidate for Florida job

For the sake of a beleaguered and bedraggled fan base, here’s hoping Chip Kelly becomes the next head coach of the Florida Gators even though I think he’s not a great fit — culturally, geographically and philosophically — at UF.Gator Nation needs som...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Lane Kiffin knows speculation about his future grows with each victory

BOCA RATON — Lane Kiffin already knows what profession he will choose once his coaching career ends.Kiffin, in his first season at Florida Atlantic, thinks he is destined to join the sports-media ranks. It will provide him opportunity to switch roles...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Strong’s slip about UCF’s Griffin seen as motivation for Knights

Strong’s slip about UCF’s Griffin seen as motivation for Knights

TAMPA — While saying nothing to purposely fan the flames of the USF-UCF rivalry during his weekly news conference Tuesday, Bulls coach Charlie Strong provided fuel for the Knights’ best player.He used the H-word when discussing Knights senior outside...
Updated: 4 hours ago