Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Centeno sets a torrid pace.


Mar 2nd, 09
OLDSMAR, Fla. - Fats Weissman, the legendary jockey agent in New York in the 1960s and 70s, was the master of the one-liners. When someone would ask what kind of day his jockey had, Weissman would quip, "Rode four, win three."

Daniel Centeno is making statements like that almost daily. The two-time leading rider at Tampa Bay Downs is well on his way toward his third riding title. Centeno rode five horses on Friday's card and won with three, raising his win total to 84 through the first 53 racing days. Through Friday, he had a 36-win edge over his nearest competitor.

His 70 wins since Jan. 1 had him tied for second in the country in races won through Friday. If he continues to win at his current rate, he could break the record of 144 wins at a single Tampa meeting set by, you guessed it, Centeno last season.

So is the defending champion looking ahead to possibly breaking his record?

"No, not really," he said Saturday. "I try not to get too far ahead of myself and pretty much go on a day-by-day and race-to-race basis when it comes to goals. I look at the horses I'm on that day, look at the competition, and go out and do my thing for the race coming up."

No one seems to work the ins and outs of the racing surface here better than Centeno, and there also are few riders who seem to know their fellow competitors' strengths and weaknesses better.

"I study the PPs and also who is on the chief competition in each race," he said. "Every rider has their own style and their own approaches, and knowing what a certain jock will do in a given situation can sometimes help make the difference between winning and losing a race."

Centeno will continue to ride here until the end of the meeting and then will head back to Monmouth Park where he has been riding the past two summers. He won 28 races at Monmouth in his first season there and then came back last year to win 63 against a tough riding colony.

"It's a good schedule between here and Monmouth," Centeno said. "And it's warm weather in both spots. There's nothing wrong with that."