O'Connell, Ness share Tampa training title
Tampa Bay Downs ended its 84th live racing season Sunday with Kathleen O'Connell, Jamie Ness, Daniel Centeno, Kristina McManigell, Midwest Thoroughbreds and PARTY OF EIGHT (Evansville Slew) taking top honors for the meet.
O'Connell and Ness shared the trainer's title for the 2009-2010 Tampa Bay Downs season with 51 wins apiece. This is only the third time in recent recorded history that two trainers have shared the season's title at Tampa Bay Downs.
O'Connell, who captured the trainer's title here in 1998-1999, came into this Tampa Bay Downs season after securing the training title at Calder Race Course, and will return to the Miami oval for the summer months.
Ness earned his first training title in the 2006-07 campaign and has achieved this accolade each year since. This year, the South Dakota native saddled 51 winners from 143 starters with purse earnings approaching $700,000.
Centeno, who has captured the Tampa Bay Downs jockey title for four years in a row, was named as top rider for the current season. The reinsman haltered 133 victories this year. Centeno ended the 2009-2010 season by booting home three winners on the closing day card; he took his first trip to the winner's circle aboard Smak Dab, a four-year-old Double Honor colt owned by Ojia Stewart and trained by Kenny Flowers. Centeno struck again with Hi Time Scott (Regal Humor), this time for Whitney Racing Stable and conditioner William Downing. Centeno got his final win of the season with Arsenal (Safe in the U S A), this time for owner Lambholm Stable and trainer Roy S. Lerman.
This was Centeno's sixth meet at Tampa. He debuted here in the 2004-2005 season with a 10th-place finish in the rider standings with 32 wins from only 276 mounts; four years ago Centeno finished second in the rider standings with 72 wins from 475 rides; three years ago, the reinsman has 125 wins from 538 starts and $1,667,752 in purses. In the 2007-2008 year Centeno set the record for wins and purse earnings in a single season when he took 144 trips to the winner's circle and his mounts earned $2,145,528. Last year, the reinsman haltered 138 victories and earned nearly $2 million in purses. Centeno will spend the summer in the Monmouth Park riding colony and plans to return to ride at Tampa when racing resumes here again.
Leading apprentice rider McManigell broke her maiden on January 7 aboard Real Stormy. McManigell, who captured 13 wins at Tampa Bay Downs, will spend her summer months at Suffolk Downs in Boston.
Midwest Thoroughbreds accepted the trophy for leading owner at Tampa Bay Downs for this season; Midwest Thoroughbreds secured 43 victories, setting a new record for number of wins for an owner in a single season.
Party of Eight took home top honors for a horse this year with five wins to her credit from six starts. The nine-year-old mare is under the care of trainer David Hinsley for owner Arbywood Stable and was bred in Kentucky by Mike and Judy Crowe.
The meet's signature race, the March 13 Tampa Bay Derby (G3), featured a thrilling photo-finish. Odysseus (Malibu Moon) just pipped Schoolyard Dreams (Stephen Got Even) by a nostril, with eventual Kentucky Derby (G1) hero Super Saver (Maria's Mon) a close third. This was the second time in just four years that the Kentucky Derby winner raced at Tampa; in 2007, Street Sense captured the Tampa Bay Derby on the way to his triumph at Churchill Downs.
Although live racing will not resume until December, the Silks Poker Room remains open daily from 12:30 p.m. (ET) through 12:30 a.m., and the Downs Golf Practice Facility is open on Mondays from 10 a.m. through 10 p.m. and on Tuesdays through Sundays from 8:30 a.m. through 10 p.m.
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