04/18/2011 12:05PM

Daniel Coa climbs into top 10 of Tampa Bay jockey standings


OLDSMAR, Fla. – Daniel Coa, who is racing full time here at Tampa Bay Downs for the first time this season, won six races this past week, including three on Friday, and now has 32 winners for the meeting to move into the top 10 in the jockey standings.

Herson Sanchez, who handled Luis Garcia’s engagements this past winter, has taken over Coa’s book now that Garcia has moved his tack to Maryland. Garcia won 34 races in his first meeting at Tampa and made a favorable impression with a number of trainers.

Ronnie Allen had another good week, winning nine races, and moved into the top spot in the jockey standings with 85 winners, six ahead of injured Daniel Centeno. Leandro Goncalves, who has already departed and is riding in Kentucky, still holds second with 66 wins. Huber Villa-Gomez has 36 wins, two ahead of Garcia, Willie Martinez, and Rosemary Homeister Jr., who is off on maternity leave.

Dan Mellul, agent for Centeno, also has handled Wilmer Galviz this meeting and reports he will be taking that rider to Calder when this meeting concludes as well as an apprentice jockey named Wilfred Garujo. Garujo, who began his career in New York, has been riding at Penn National recently.

Ness, Bennett one-two in trainer standings

The trainers’ race continues to be a two-stable affair as Jamie Ness holds a five-win lead over Gerald Bennett, 50-45, through Sunday’s program. Ness won just two races from April 13-17 at Tampa but is still winning at a 32 percent clip this meeting while Bennett captured four races during the same period. Jane Cibelli (24) and Kathleen O’Connell (23) are third and fourth, followed by Jorge Navarro 21), and Dale Bennett and Anthony Pecoraro with 19 apiece.

Lori Smock won another race on Sunday to run her win total for the meeting to 14. Smock, who had a sub-par season here last year with just six winners, is winning at better than 20 percent during the 2010-2011 stand.

Stats show fans prefer turf racing

Turf racing, which didn’t even exist at Tampa until 1998, has become by far the most popular feature of the local racing program. Mutuel records indicate that approximately 28 percent more money is wagered on turf races than on main track races. The racing office likes turf racing because turf races are easier to fill and often draw overflow fields.

And fortunately for fans and bettors the Tampa turf course is one of the best in the country and seems to hold up to the wear and tear better than most.

Track superintendent Tom McLaughlin and his crew do an excellent job. Scott Moore of the maintenance department and the man who deals with much of the maintenance of the course, reports that more than 190 races have been contested over the turf course this season through 81 days of racing. That means Tampa is averaging a little more than two turf races per program.

The course continues to be healthy and vibrant, there are very few burnt-out spots and even when more than five inches of rain was dumped on the track grounds a few weeks back, the course still held up remarkably well.

◗ Trainer Derek Ryan took his stakes mare C.C.’s Pal to Charles Town for Saturday night’s $250,000 Sugar Maple Stakes, but had to settle for second behind heavily favored Sweet Goodbye in the seven-furlong sprint.

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