OLDSMAR — It is several hours after the day's final race at Tampa Bay Downs. Jockey Daniel Centeno sits in front of his home computer, reviewing, critiquing and defining every mount he had that afternoon.
"I watch all my horses on replay," he said. "I've got time to watch like in slow motion — what I did wrong, what I did right. If I make a mistake, I don't want to do it again the next time."
Mistakes were minimal for Centeno a year ago on Florida Cup Day, today's attraction at the Oldsmar oval. He rode six stakes, winning three — one a stakes record — and finishing second in the others. He totaled four wins and $221,348 in purse earnings. Pieces are in place this afternoon for Tampa Bay Downs' leading rider to approach that standard again. With the focus on Florida-bred horses, Centeno has mounts in all six $85,000 stakes and 11 of 12 races with combined purses of $614,300. Post time is 12:25 p.m.
Centeno, 37, appears headed toward his third straight riding title at TBD. With 16 days remaining in the meet, the Caracas, Venezuela, native has huge leads in wins (115) and purse earnings ($1,574,859). He set track records in both categories last year with 144 victories and $2,145,528 in purses. Centeno will ride again this summer at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J.
"The stewards at Monmouth Park told me they wished they had 20 of him in the jocks' room, because of the way he handles himself," agent Dan Mellul said. "Danny is a very, very professional rider."
Centeno's season has been topped by his first graded stakes win aboard Musket Man in the Grade III $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby on March 14, one of his six stakes victories. He also attained a career high with five wins on the Feb. 22 card. Centeno's shot at riding Musket Man in today's Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Race Course near Chicago evaporated when the colt's connections switched to Eibar Coa. "It's just the business," Centeno said. "I thought maybe they'd give me another chance."
The TBD stakes, ranging from 6 furlongs to 11/8 miles on dirt and turf, are Races 4 through 9. Centeno's stakes mounts are: Bells of Concerto (Sophomore Fillies), Scolara (Turf Distaff), Bee Cee Cee (Sophomore), Ruff and Ready (Turf Classic), Repenting (Sprint) and Tamborim (Sophomore Turf). Centeno's stakes record last year came with Repenting, winner of the 7-furlong Sophomore in 1 minute, 22.79 seconds for leading trainer Jamie Ness. In the Turf Classic, 2008 runnerup Silver Tree makes his 9-year-old debut.
MORE HORSES: The $500,000 Illinois Derby is one of three Kentucky Derby preps today, joining the $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in Jamaica, N.Y., and $750,000 Santa Anita Derby in Arcadia, Calif. The Derby is May 2 in Louisville, Ky.
GREYHOUNDS: Flying Mancini and Tmc's Remedy head tonight's qualifying in the $100,000 Distance Classic at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg. Qualifiers are Races 6 and 10. The finale of the 660-yard Classic is scheduled for April 11.