BY TAMPA BAY PRESS OFFICE
OLDSMAR, FL—While it’s premature to predict what level of success apprentice jockey Gabriel Maldonado will achieve, both in the short term and the long run, he’s already showing signs of fitting in among the deep Tampa Bay Downs colony.
Maldonado, a 25-year-old Puerto Rico native, won on two of his three starters Wednesday, giving him three winners at the meet. He lit up the tote board in the third race, a $25,000 maiden claiming on the turf, riding 3-year-old filly Al Tirah to a two-and-three-quarter-length victory at odds of 38-1.
In the sixth race, Maldonado showed he can handle an odds-on favorite, acing the five-and-a-half-furlong contest on Truly Mischief by six-and-a-quarter lengths for owner-trainer Juan Arriagada.
A 4-year-old gelding, Truly Mischief was claimed for $8,000 by trainer Benny Feliciano for new owner MCR Stable.
Maldonado, who is also a licensed farrier, began his career as a jockey on May 21 at Gulfstream Park. He exercised horses for top trainer Chad Brown in south Florida in 2019 and 2020, then spent much of the last two years lowering his weight to be able to compete in the afternoons.
“He’s a nice kid who is serious about what he does,” agent Eddie Joe Zambrana, a former jockey, said. “He’s got a lot of talent for being an apprentice, he’s a hard worker and he listens to what the trainers tell him. I think he has a good future if he stays the way he is.”
Zambrana said days like Wednesday will further bolster Maldonado’s confidence and that of trainers looking for the apprentice weight allowance. “The more confidence the trainers have,” Zambrana said, “the more chances they’ll give him.”
Around the oval: Leading jockey Samy Camacho won both halves of the late daily double Wednesday at Tampa Bay Downs. He won the eighth race on Flipping Fish, a 5-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by MCR Stable and trained by Benny Feliciano. Camacho added the ninth race on the turf with Sir Lumpalot, a 3-year-old gelding owned by Madison Avenue Racing Stable and Jagger, Inc., and trained by Jamie Ness.
Return to the December 14 issue of Wire to Wire