03/15/2007 12:00AM

Centeno heading to N.J.

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Daniel Centeno, the leading jockey in the country by wins and the leading rider at the Tampa Bay Downs meet, is splitting with his agent, Herson Sanchez, and will switch his tack to New Jersey beginning with the Monmouth Park meeting this spring.

The 35-year-old Centeno plans to hire as his agent Danny Mellul, who has worked for Rene Douglas and Joe Bravo in recent years. Centeno will ride at Tampa Bay Downs until sometime in April before moving to Miami for a short period and then heading to Monmouth.

"Herson and I have had a lot of success," Centeno said. "He's worked very hard. I just felt with the exposure I was getting from leading the country in races won that the time was right for me to move to another level."

Centeno, a native of Venezuela, began riding in the United States in 2003. Through Wednesday, he had won 569 races from 3,775 mounts, which had earned $6.7 million.

At the 2006-07 Tampa Bay meet, he had won 105 races from 446 mounts through Wednesday and led the standings by 29 wins. Centeno had 87 wins this year through Wednesday.