Samy Camacho arrived at Tampa Bay Downs brimming with confidence after finishing third at the Gulfstream Park summer meeting with 46 victories and sixth at Gulfstream Park West this fall with 24.
After riding 100 winners here last season to finish second to Antonio Gallardo, it’s logical to expect Camacho to contend for top honors. With Steve Elzey as his agent and leading trainers vying for his services, Camacho appears ready both talent-wise and mentally to make a major impression.
With three victories over the last two racing days, Camacho has been selected as the first Señor Tequila Mexican Grill Jockey of the Month Award winner of the 2018-2019 meeting.
“This is my fourth season at Tampa Bay Downs, and I have a lot of confidence right now because I’m riding for better trainers and riding better horses,” Camacho said. “Every race is important for me, and I’m happy to be here because this is my place.”
Trainers have noticed Camacho’s rapid improvement over the last year. “He had a very good year at Gulfstream, and I think he is well on his way to being one of the better riders here,” said trainer Monte Thomas after Camacho rode his 2-year-old Florida-bred filly Russian Roulette to a 16 ¼-length maiden victory in today’s third race.
“He (Camacho) works hard and tries to ride each horse as the race comes up instead of falling into the same pattern,” Thomas said. “He came here with a lot of confidence, and that’s a big thing for a horse and a rider. I plan to keep using him, but if he gets real hot I might not be able to get to him.”
Camacho rode two winners on Saturday’s Opening Day card. The 30-year-old native of Caracas, Venezuela isn’t shy about making his ambition known: He wants to win his first riding title at Tampa Bay Downs.
“I think the two top jockeys I have to beat (to win a title) are Antonio Gallardo and Daniel Centeno, but I respect all the jockeys here,” Camacho said. “The competition is going to be tough no matter where you’re riding, and I have to go to work every day and check with my owners and trainers in the morning and try hard every race.”
Camacho has been joined in Oldsmar by his younger brother, jockey Samuel Camacho, Jr. They come from a racing family; their father, Samuel Camacho, Sr., rode his entire career in Venezuela, notching more than 900 victories.
Also keeping Camacho grounded are his wife Kismar Torcat, their 12 and 4-year-old sons and a 10-year-old daughter. They are expecting another child in the spring.
Camacho has always been a good-natured jockey with potential, but Elzey has helped sharpen his focus by taking care of the business end and encouraging Camacho to do what he does best – make good decisions and get all kinds of horses to run for him.
“Steve Elzey has a lot of experience and knows every top trainer,” Camacho said. “He teaches me a couple of things every day to make me a better jockey, and having him as an agent lets me concentrate 100 percent on my job.
“He’s a good agent and a good person, and he’s my friend,” Camacho said.