At Age 59, Ferrer Still Going Strong at Tampa
Monday, May 1, 2023

    OLDSMAR - After winning Saturday’s fourth race on Textpectation, jockey Jose Ferrer expressed a desire to finish second in the 2022-2023 Tampa Bay Downs standings.

  Mission accomplished – and then some.

    The 59-year-old rider went 4-for-4 Sunday's card, vaulting over injured Pablo Morales with 55 victories for the meet set to wrap up Saturday.

    Ferrer concluded his tour de force in the eighth and final race with an 8-length victory on Feuilleton, a 5-year-old gelding making his first start in almost two years.

    Counting Saturday’s victory, Ferrer has ridden five straight winners.

    “It feels unbelievable. There is no comparison to winning four at Tampa Bay Downs, because this is my hometown. And to win (the seventh race, on Sir Robert Hall) for my buddy (owner) Joe DiBello, makes it more special. He’s like my brother.

    “Everything worked out perfect. God is great and he gives me the strength to keep going on my journey. And my family (wife Steffi and sons Derek and Joseph) is here today and they’re always supporting me. I can’t do it without them – they give me the energy to keep going.”

    Samy Camacho leads the Oldsmar standings with 112 winners. Morales has 53, with Antonio Gallardo fourth with 52.

    Both Ferrer and Camacho are represented by agent Mike Moran.

    Everything seemed to go Ferrer’s way Sunday, as it so often has in a career that has seen him ride 4,720 winners. He won the second race by rallying from last place aboard 4-year-old filly Pearlintherough for a half-length victory for owner Amaty Racing Stables and trainer Sandino Hernandez, Jr.

    In the fifth race, for maiden 3-year-olds, Ferrer again came from behind to post a 4 ¼-length triumph on Florida-bred Neolithic gelding Big Bucksalot for owner Pirate Racing and trainer Christos Gatis. The seventh, a maiden special weight, was the Cody’s Original Roadhouse Race of the Week, and Ferrer feasted on the competition, guiding 9-1 shot Sir Robert Hall to victory for DiBello Racing and trainer Kathleen O’Connell.

    There seemed to be little doubt about the eighth after Ferrer hustled Feuilleton, owned and trained by Pearl Chain, to the lead in the mile-and-40-yard contest. They could have gone around again and the outcome wouldn’t have changed, although Ferrer would not have been credited with a fifth victory.

    Cynics might ask for a check of his birth certificate, but it was uplifting to see him perform at this level so close to the end of the meet.

    Huge week upcoming. The post position draws for the $3-million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve and the $1.25-million Longines Kentucky Oaks will be held from 2-3 p.m. today in the Aristides Lounge on the second floor of the Churchill Downs Clubhouse.

    Post positions for both races will be determined by a traditional “pill pull,” in which a horse’s entry blank is pulled simultaneously with a numbered pill corresponding to the horse’s starting position.

    The Kentucky Derby Draw will be streamed live on . The field for the mile-and-a-quarter Derby, to be run Saturday, is limited to 20 3-year-old horses, while the field for the mile-and-an-eighth Oaks on Friday is limited to 14 3-year-old fillies.

    Thus begins the buildup to two days of racing excitement rivaled only by the Breeders’ Cup, but carrying far more history and tradition. Both the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby were first run in 1875, a year in which the electric dental drill was patented and Billy the Kid escaped his jail cell by climbing out of a chimney.

    Adding to the weeklong atmosphere of “Derby Fever,” Tampa Bay Downs will present full cards of Thoroughbred racing Wednesday, Friday and Saturday as its 2022-2023 meet wraps up (racing will then return to the Oldsmar oval June 30 and July 1 for the annual two-day Summer Festival of Racing).

    Wednesday’s eight-race card will begin at 12:28 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, Tampa Bay Downs will open the gates at 10 a.m. to allow fans to wager on all the action from Churchill Downs, which begins racing at 10:30 a.m. both days. Admission is $3 Friday and $10 Saturday.

    The Longines Kentucky Oaks will be the 11th race Friday, with an expected post time of 5:51 p.m. The Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve is the 12th race Saturday, with a 6:57 p.m. post time.

    Advance wagering on the entire Derby card from Louisville will be offered throughout Friday, providing fans desiring to move at a more relaxed pace and soak up the sights and sounds of a Tampa Bay Downs Derby Day party the opportunity to savor the spectacle.

    On Saturday, Tampa Bay Downs will offer the traditional Kentucky Derby Day drink, a mint julep, in the official Derby souvenir glass for $13. Each glass lists all 148 Run for the Roses winners, from Aristides in 1875 through Rich Strike in 2022. The glasses are available for $10. Refills and mint juleps in a non-Derby souvenir cup are $9 apiece.

    Also on Saturday, Tampa Bay Downs will conduct a unique twist on the traditional “best-looking hat” contest. Tampa Bay Downs employees will roam the stands throughout the day, selecting patrons wearing the most attractive headgear. Fans chosen as winners will receive a mutuel voucher.

    While Forte is expected to be the wagering favorite for the Derby, three horses to have competed at Tampa Bay Downs this season – Gr. III Tampa Bay Derby winner Tapit Trice, Gr. II Louisiana Derby winner Kingsbarns and Lord Miles – are expected to compete. Forte, Tapit Trice and Kingsbarns are all trained by Todd Pletcher, whose two Kentucky Derby winners, Super Saver in 2010 and Always Dreaming in 2017, had raced at Tampa Bay Downs.

    Lord Miles, who is trained by Saffie A. Joseph Jr., was fifth in the Tampa Bay Derby before winning the Gr. II Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct.

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