Camacho Leading Jockey at Tampa Bay for Third Time in Last Four Seasons

on 04/25/2022 2:58 PM

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Tampa Bay Press Release 4/24/2022

It’s official: Samy Camacho has wrapped up his third Tampa Bay Downs jockeys title in the last four seasons.

With six days remaining in the 2021-2022 meet (plus the June 30 card, which is the official last day of the season as well as the first day of the annual two-day Summer Festival of Racing), Camacho has 85 victories, 14 more than Pablo Morales.

Camacho, who rode two winners today, plans to ride here through Friday before heading to New Jersey to compete at Monmouth Park, which begins its spring-summer season on May 7. Today was Morales’s last day here; he plans to spend next week with his family before heading to Presque Isle Downs in pursuit of his eighth title at the Erie, Pa., track.

The difference here, to some degree, was opportunity. Camacho has ridden more than 450 horses at Tampa Bay Downs, by far the most of any jockey, under the guidance of his agent, Mike Moran. Morales’s 320 mounts are third-most, but his colony-leading 22-percent strike rate wasn’t enough to make up the difference.

Like a coach who keeps handing the football to his star running back throughout the game, Moran secured Camacho lots of business, knowing the jockey would let him know if he started getting tired.

“It feels good to win again,” said Camacho, who triumphed in 2018-2019 with 123 winners and last season with 111. “Mike Moran and I have good communication, and he helps me in everything I do. When I was a kid (in Venezuela) I watched the races from the United States and had the dream to come to this country and be a jockey. It’s still hard to believe that I’m doing it.

“In a way it was easier this year, because I have more experience and more confidence in myself. But there is a lot of competition here and a lot of different jockeys have been winning races, so that made it tougher,” Camacho said.

Camacho, who has 993 career victories, will receive his Leading Jockey trophy in a winner’s-circle presentation Friday.

Camacho and Moran’s other rider, Fernando De La Cruz (third in the standings with 62 winners), will be joining the Monmouth colony after spending recent summers elsewhere: Camacho at Gulfstream Park and De La Cruz in Indiana at the track now called Horseshoe Indianapolis.

“A lot of trainers from my country and from here asked me to go to New Jersey,” Camacho said.

Camacho said Gulfstream management’s plans to install a new turf course this summer played into his decision, but at 33, he believes he needs to expand his horizons to raise his profile in the sport and get better chances to ride high-caliber stakes horses.

“I want to keep growing as a jockey and I want to take the chance in the future to try Gulfstream in the winter or New York or California, any track with big horses that have a chance to get to the Kentucky Derby or the Breeders’ Cup. That’s what every jockey wants,” Camacho said.

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