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)

Tampa Bay Downs trainer Kathleen O'Connell brings 2009 success into '10.

OLDSMAR — The workday for trainer Kathleen O'Connell is sunrise to sunset. It used to be longer.

Two decades ago, O'Connell shipped horses from Tampa Bay Downs or a nearby training center to race on the same day at Calder Race Course. Her schedule: Leave for Miami Gardens at midnight and return 26 hours later.

"It was 286 miles by Alligator Alley and 276 by the (Florida) Turnpike," she said. "And I can tell you where every palm tree was."

O'Connell, 58, a Detroit native, still motors along. She is coming off a career year, highlighted by a trainer championship at the Tropical at Calder meet. She also won the nation's first graded stakes this year and entering today is tied with Anthony Pecoraro as the Downs' leading trainer.

"I train for a lot of breeders," O'Connell said. "It's just the right stock coming together and staying healthy. I'm not a real claiming trainer, (so) to get these kinds of stats is pretty incredible."

Her statistics were striking in 2009: a personal high 107 victories from 662 starts, $1,521,518 in purse earnings and a No. 40 national ranking, second among females. Her crowning achievement came last week at Calder, where she became the first woman to win a trainer title in the track's 39 years.

Her final Calder winner was Fly by Phil in the Grade III $100,000 Tropical Park Derby on Jan. 1. Fly by Phil is owned by Gilbert Campbell, a Massachusetts resident and Ocala farm owner who is O'Connell's major owner. The 3-year-old gelding may be entered in the Grade III $225,000 Sam F. Davis on Feb. 13 at the Downs. O'Connell's only other title came in the 1998-99 meet at Oldsmar.

Patience is paramount to O'Connell's success.

"Young horses come around at a different caliber," she said. "Some that are bred to go long, you train for a long time before you even run them. And the babies, mentally and physically, can't take the every two- to three-week pounding that an older horse might take."

MORE DOWNS: Big Truck, the 2008 Tampa Bay Derby winner, is among 10 entries in today's $65,000 Pelican Stakes (Race 8, 3:43 p.m.). … Jockey Daniel Centeno, hospitalized after being kicked by a horse in the paddock Sunday, returned to action Wednesday with four wins. "I got (kicked) right in the middle of my chest, close to my heart," he said. "But thank God, everything is okay." … Apprentice rider Kristina McManigell scored her first career win Thursday aboard Real Stormy ($32.60).

GREYHOUNDS: Kennel owner-trainer Mick D'Arcy said Sovereign Lord is "now legit" after winning the 85th Inaugural Stakes on Jan. 2 at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg. It was Sovereign Lord's first stakes win in a career-best time of 30.54 seconds at 550 yards. He is out of the first litter from 2006 Derby Lane Million winner Greys Calibrator. His sire is track 550-yard record holder Trent Lee.

Tampa Bay Downs trainer Kathleen O'Connell brings 2009 success into '10. 01/08/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 8, 2010 8:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. College World Series: Gators, LSU face off in all-SEC finals

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — The matchup for the College World Series finals bolsters the case for those who say the best baseball in the land is played in the SEC.

    Florida’s Brady Singer, delivering during a CWS win over Louisville last week, is scheduled to start tonight against LSU.
  2. Jones: Fox Sports Sun shows depth in Rays coverage

    TV and Radio

    tom jones' two cents

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) makes a run home for a score in the in the final game of a three-game series between the Tampa Bay Rays and AL East rival the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, June 25, 2017.
  3. Brian Boyle says returning to Lightning a 'huge option'

    Blogs

    As former Lightning forward Brian Boyle approaches free agency this week, he said he's trying to stay busy.

    Former Tampa Bay Lightning player center Brian Boyle (24), on the ice during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa on March 16, 2017.
  4. Rays journal: Blake Snell to rejoin rotation, Erasmo Ramirez heads to bullpen

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Blake Snell is rejoining the Rays' rotation, but the move has as much to do with helping the bullpen as it does with Snell's improvement during his time at Triple-A Durham.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (30) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.
  5. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.