04/17/2004 12:00AM

Cosme's career on the rise


OLDSMAR, Fla. - Emmanuel Cosme, the leading apprentice jockey at Tampa Bay Downs, would like nothing better than to follow in the footsteps of Willie Martinez and Manny Cruz and use a strong meeting here to launch a successful career.

Through April 16, Cruz has won 36 races. And while he has no chance of winning the riding title as Martinez did in 1991-92 (123 wins) and Cruz did in 2001-02 (91), he is a shoo-in to be leading apprentice here and will finish in the top 10 in the standings.

That isn't bad for a kid who wandered under trainer Richard Ciardullo's shed row at Calder last fall looking for some help filling out his state racing license application. Ciardullo put Cosme on his first winner at Calder and his book was handled by Ciardullo's sister, Lisa Stannard, for the first portion of this meeting.

Midway through the meet, Cosme hooked up with Don Hill, who also handles Jesus Castanon. A seven-day suspension stalled the Cosme bandwagon temporarily, but once back in action he picked right up where he left off.

Hill said plans now are for Cosme to head to Miami, where he hopes to follow the same route Cruz took when he came off a strong meeting here.

"We'll play it by ear as to whether he rides here the rest of the meeting. His south Florida business will play a big part in that," Hill said.

Big day for veteran trainers

The rapidly changing face of the training colony here over the past few years had a lot of folks thinking the "old guard" horsemen who had been forces here for decades were all washed up, but Tuesday's results proved otherwise.

Ray Tamargo, who is famous locally for never bringing a horse to the races too soon, struck again in the third race when he sent out the 6-year-old Shine So Bright to win a maiden race in her second career start. Shine So Bright, a homebred daughter of Groomstick, dueled inside under Jesus Castanon, then drew off against $25,000 maiden sprinters.

Tamargo struck again in the sixth, saddling Jane Daniels, who won a $10,000 claiming sprint by a half-length under Castanon. The two victories gave Tamargo 6 wins from 41 starts at the meet.

While Tamargo no longer sends out winners at a 30 or 40 percent clip, the man who trained seven-furlong track-record holder Oh So Striking can still get it done.

Don Rice, who topped the trainer standings here last season and has been leading trainer here seven times, had a win, a second, and a fourth on the program. He won't lead the standings this season, but his horses should never be taken lightly.

Trainer standings tightly bunched

Just how competitive is the racing here this meeting? A quick look at the trainer standings show eight stables are within six wins of the lead.

Lynn Scace and Ronnie Allen Sr. are tied at the top with 23 wins each, one more than Layne Giliforte. Earl Begley has 19 wins, followed by Tom Agosti and Barbara McBride with 18 each. Tony Pecoraro and Kirk Ziadie have 17 apiece. Ziadie sports the most impressive win percentage with 17 winners from just 37 starters.

- Apprentice Rafael Hernandez is picking up momentum. A 19-year-old from Puerto Rico, Hernandez has won three races from 29 mounts since beginning his career here recently.