Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jockey Centeno on verge of breaking own wins record

OLDSMAR — When thunderstorms engulfed Tampa Bay Downs on Sunday, canceling the final three races, rain-soaked fans splashed through puddles as they raced toward their vehicles.

Watching from the paddock was jockey Daniel Centeno, who remained dry under the structure's roof. Nothing ever seems to rain on his parade at the Oldsmar track.

Centeno, a 36-year-old native of Caracas, Venezuela, is on the cusp of breaking his second record of the meet. A week after establishing a purse mark on what he called "the best day of my life," Centeno can eclipse the win record he owns this afternoon.

With 124 victories in 466 starts, he is two shy of surpassing the record he set last year. He has nine mounts on the 11-race card. Centeno appears a virtual lock to capture consecutive riding championships with a 62-win lead over Rosemary Homeister Jr. Thirteen days remain in the Downs' 82nd season.

"Yes, I'm surprised," he said of his big lead. "I knew it was going to be tough. There were more riders and better riders this year like (Jose) Velez (Jr.), Willie Martinez and Rosemary. … I've had a great year."

The pinnacle came April 5, when the 18-year rider won three $85,000 stakes and placed second in three other stakes on Florida Cup Day. His day featured four victories and $221,348 in purse earnings, pushing his money total beyond the mark of $1,667,752 he set in 2006-07. He generated a stakes record as Repenting won the 7-furlong Sophomore on the main track in 1 minute, 22.79 seconds for trainer Jamie Ness and owner Balkrisna Sukharan.

"Oh, my goodness," Centeno said, describing the day. "Wow!"

Centeno leads the meet with six stakes wins and purse earnings of $1,860,772. He ranks third nationally with 107 victories.

"He's a speed-oriented rider, very good on the front end," Ness said. "He works my horses the way I want them done, and that translates to better performances in the afternoon. He's a class act all the way."

Centeno started the meet with a new agent and renewed confidence. Dan Mellul took over Centeno's bookings after they hooked up last summer, when Centeno rode at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J. Herson Sanchez, Centeno's agent last season, now works with Huber Villa-Gomez and Velez, the Downs' third leading rider.

The confidence came as a result of an injury, Centeno said. He was involved in a turf spill in August at Monmouth Park and was sidelined three months with a broken nose and injured liver.

"I got more confidence in myself after the fall," he said. "I learned a lot after that. I'm a better rider on the grass now."

Centeno plans to ride at the Downs until the meet concludes May 4. He will proceed to Monmouth Park and Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., before returning to the Downs for the 2008-09 meet.

MORE HORSES: Tampa Bay Derby winner Big Truck faces Pyro and 10 other rivals today (5:18 p.m.) in the Grade I $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland Race Track in Lexington, Ky. … Fort Prado, winner of the 2006 Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup, attempts to surpass $1-million in career earnings Sunday (4:40 p.m.) in the Grade III $125,000 Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland.

GREYHOUNDS: McAllister Kennels' Flyin Bridgeport supplied a milestone performance in his victory over Castle Princess in the $100,000 Distance Classic on April 5 at Derby Lane.

Flyin Bridgeport, winner of the 2007 Flashy Sir Award (top distance dog) and All-America member, gave kennel operator Malcolm McAllister his 10th stakes victory at the St. Petersburg track. Trained by Barbara McAllister, Malcolm's wife, Flyin Bridgeport became the third greyhound in the event's 49-year history to win consecutive Distance Classics, joining Keefer (1986-87) and Rinaker (1963-64). He is owned by Vince Berland.

"It's been an awesome year for our kennel, the best one in my 28 years in the business," Malcolm said.

McAllister has won six of the eight stakes this meet.


Derby preps

What: Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach and Blue Grass (recap) at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.

TV: 5:30 p.m., ESPN

Jockey Centeno on verge of breaking own wins record 04/11/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 10:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  2. Rays journal: Kevin Kiermaier returns, Mallex Smith sent to Triple A

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It didn't take CF Kevin Kiermaier long to make his presence felt during his return Friday to the Rays lineup. Kiermaier pretended to have Mariners DH Nelson Cruz's first-inning line drive lined up even as the ball went past him to his right and to the wall.

    Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) flies out in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  3. Rays vs. Mariners, 6:10 p.m. Saturday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    6:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    This is a 2017 photo of Jake Odorizzi of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  4. Bucs journal: Starting defense disappointed holding Jags to 1 rushing yard


    JACKSONVILLE — The Bucs' starting defense held the Jaguars to a total of 1 rushing yard on seven carries in the first half of Thursday's 12-8 preseason win.

    And its members were disappointed.

    Jacksonville Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon (24) is thrown for a 1-yard loss as he is stopped by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David (54) and defensive end Robert Ayers (91) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) JVS102
  5. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.