Samy Camacho has performed like a man on a mission for the past six days of racing at Tampa Bay Downs.
Camacho, who won the Oldsmar riding title last year with 111 wins, has ridden far more horses than any other jockey this season, a tribute to the rider’s skills and athleticism, as well as the rush of his agent, Mike Moran.
And since many trainers with a higher percentage of the track like to use Camacho, the winners inevitably start piling up.
The 33-year-old Caracas, Venezuela product rode four winners on Friday, giving him 35 for the meet – eight ahead of runner-up Pablo Morales. More specifically, Camacho has 14 wins from his last 40 mounts, taking 12 seconds and five thirds.
That serious streak of success includes a win last Saturday for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott with the 3-year-old Florida-bred filly Outfoxed in the $125,000 Gasparilla Stakes.
Camacho’s most exciting win on Friday came in the seventh race on the turf, a first-mile special-weight competition for 3-year-olds. Refusing to accept defeat, Camacho continued to scrub on the Chad Brown-trained first-time Napoleonic War, pushing the colt into a dead end with another first-time starter, trainer Christophe Clement’s colt Seigneur, ridden by Hector Rafael Diaz, Jr.
“I thought I lost it when I went over the wire, and I was a little upset because I knew he was better than the other horses in the race,” Camacho said. “He was a little hyper in the gate, just played a little, and when the doors opened, he leaned up and lost the break. The pace was slow and I was chasing all the way, but when I asked him he came fly in.
“I think that horse will win by 5 lengths if he doesn’t miss the break, but I kept trying and we got a dead heat. When I drive for Chad Brown, I feel like I’m driving a Rolls-Royce,” Camacho said.
Camacho started Friday’s card with wins in his first two attempts. He won the second race on Mystery Mo, a 4-year-old gelding by Averill Racing and trained by Gerald Bennett. Camacho returned to the winner’s circle after the third race with Berhanu, a 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding by Chuncho Bravo Stable & Farm and trained by Javier Morzan.
In race six, Camacho helped 4-year-old Florida-bred filly Cajun Spice achieve her first career win ahead of owners Karyn Philipp and Tage Boohit. Philippe is the coach.
Camacho also had a second and a fourth on the map.
Nearly two-thirds of the race remains for Morales, five-time champions Antonio Gallardo and Fernando De La Cruz to take Camacho’s lead in the standings. But as long as Camacho stays healthy and continues to believe in himself, his rivals will have a hard time keeping him from a successful defense.
“I feel great. I have a lot of confidence in myself and Mike Moran,” said Camacho. “I feel happy when I get to ride a lot of horses because I have more opportunities to win more races.”
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