Make us your home page
Instagram

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 Kathleen O'Connell nears Tampa Bay Down title

OLDSMAR — From Barn 25 on the Tampa Bay Downs backside, Kathleen O'Connell has an unobstructed view of the main track. She can watch races and tend to her 30-horse stable without missing a beat.

Rarely has her position been any better.

O'Connell, an Oldsmar fixture since 1976, stands atop the Downs trainer standings. She is pursuing a second track title and holds a 48-45 win lead over three-time champion Jamie Ness. Six racing days remain in the Downs' 84th season that concludes May 2.

"It would be wonderful if we could pull it off," O'Connell, 58, said. "We're trying to do the best with what we have to work with."

O'Connell won her first Downs title in 1998-99. No female has worn the Oldsmar crown twice since 1980, when records began. Her stable has been stable. O'Connell has lost seven horses at the claiming box and claimed two, reacquiring Rational Velvet both times. She has 233 starts, 89 more than any of the track's top 20 trainers. O'Connell says success wouldn't be possible without her 38-member staff. "They've done a wonderful job," she said. "Most of the people have been with me quite a while."

Many of O'Connell's horses are supplied by breeders. One is Dazzlin Dr Cologne, a 5-year-old gelding owned by Luis de Hechavarria of Ocala. The claiming sprinter ranks second at the Downs in victories, winning all four starts. "He's a hard-knocking horse, and we've just tried to manage him where he can be productive," she said.

Momentum has been with O'Connell in 2010. The Detroit native ranks first nationally among female trainers, and 15th overall, with 44 wins. In March, O'Connell was recognized by the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association as the top winner of Florida-bred horses in 2009. In January, she tied a Downs record she previously shared with Ness by saddling four winners on one card; and her Fly by Phil became the nation's first graded stakes winner of the decade by capturing the Grade III $100,000 Tropical Park Derby at Calder. That victory sealed the Tropical at Calder title for O'Connell, the first female to be leading trainer in Miami Gardens track history. Fly by Phil, a Kentucky Derby hopeful, hasn't raced since with health issues.

MORE HORSES: The Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa will hold a benefit walk at the Downs' track on May 1. The walk begins at 11 a.m. and is limited to 300 individuals. For information, call (813) 298-6165 or go to tampatrot.org. … Gulfstream Park ends its 2010 meet today with six stakes at Hallandale Beach. On Sunday, Calder begins its 40th season with a 101-day meet. … Churchill Downs opens its meet today in Louisville with the final prep race for the May 1 Kentucky Derby: the Grade III $200,000 Cliff's Edge Derby Trial (Race 10, 5:17 p.m.).

Jockey Kathleen O'Connell nears Tampa Bay Down title 04/23/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 23, 2010 6:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  2. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title

    Baseballpreps

    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  3. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  4. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. laughing right along after comical dive

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Souza being Souza.

    That seemed to be the best way to describe the entertaining — and comically bad — dive Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. attempted in Friday's game, and the good humor he showed in handling the fallout, including a standing ovation his next at-bat from the …

    Twitter
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Twins game

    The Heater

    RHP Jake Odorizzi had to battle without his best stuff again, which is becoming a more common occurrence, leading to long at-bats — including 13 pitches to Kennys Vargas in the fifth — and running up his pitch count to 118 without finishing the sixth.