02/21/2011 2:15PM

Lenclud blossoming at Tampa Bay meet


OLDSMAR, Fla. – Frederic Lenclud began his riding and racetrack career at the training centers around Chantilly in his native France and now, in his third year of riding in the United States, he has made quite an impression with trainers and bettors at Tampa Bay Downs as he races here for the first time this winter.

Lenclud, who will be 24 in April, learned the basics at a riding school in Chantilly after a school guidance counselor, noting his size, suggested he might have a future as a jockey.

After a short stint in England, Lenclud came to the States, where he worked for Bill Mott and Ian Wilkes before launching his riding career in 2009. He won 83 races in 2010, winning stakes at Gulfstream and Saratoga and becoming the leading apprentice at Churchill’s spring meeting.

Even though the Tampa Bay meeting draws a large number of riders each winter, Lenclud decided to come here instead of Gulfstream Park and said recently he is pleased with that decision.

Jockeys who lose their apprentice allowance in the United States “often times seem to disappear from sight and their careers never seem to recover,” Lenclud pointed out before he started his riding assignments on Sunday, “While I knew there would be a lot of competition here, I also knew I had some support from some stables from Kentucky to count on. You have to work hard here for every mount, but so far things are going well and I’m pleased with my decision.”

Lenclud, who won his first stake of the meeting in the Super Stakes aboard Capt. Candyman Can, has 16 wins at the meeting to rank ninth in the standings.

“I like the turf course here, and lately the weather’s been almost perfect,” he said. “I’m hopeful we can make more progress before we head north to Kentucky later this spring.”

◗ There are several apprentices riding here this winter, and Angel Moreno is leading the pack with 10 winners. Moreno and trainer Jorge Navarro have been a tough combination to beat, as Moreno has won 6 races from 14 Navarro startrers while finishing second on four other occasions.

◗ The claim box has been active this meeting. Carol Siciliano, who handles the claims at this meeting, said there had been 88 horses claimed through Sunday’s seventh race. There have been some good moves and some bad moves in the claiming game, but the $25,000 trainer Gerald Bennett put up for Winning Stable and Ray Rech to take Generalissimo on Jan. 28 is looking more and more like money well spent.

Generalissimo, who won on the turf at a mile the day he was claimed from Jamie Ness, made his first start for his new connections on Feb. 17 in a six-furlong optional claiming allowance sprint on the main track and dispatched a solid field, covering the distance in 1:09.95, less than a second off the track record of 1:09 flat that has stood here since 1974, when Bootlegger’s Pet set the mark.