12/10/2012 2:35PM

Tampa Bay Downs notes: Allen embodies benefits of experience

Tom Keyser
Ronnie Allen won his first of four riding titles at Tampa Bay Downs in 1984.

OLDSMAR, Fla. – Youth or experience?

In the racing industry, owners, trainers, and bettors face that question every day when choosing between young, up-and-coming jockeys and older veterans. Whether it’s putting a rider on a horse or betting on that same runner, weighing the pros and cons of youth versus experience is no easy task.

Ronnie Allen, who won his first of four riding titles here at Tampa Bay Downs in 1984, is one of the elder statesmen of the Tampa riding colony. Allen, who is creeping up on the 3,000-win mark, will be 49 next April but shows little sign of slowing down. The leading jockey here in 2010-11, he finished second in the standings last season and has won more than 750 races since 2008, when he came back from a five-year hiatus.

“One thing I think a rider only learns with time is patience,” Allen said recently. “Young riders often try to force the issue during a race. The more you race the more you learn that if you just sit chilly and let things play out, then the problems will take care of themselves.”

According to Allen, another plus for older riders is their knowledge of the racing surfaces.

“Here at Tampa the main-track surface will change not only day to day but from the early races to the later races on a single afternoon,” he said. “You may want to be inside early and out in the four or five path for later races. Being caught on the wrong part of the strip can cost you a race if you don’t know where you should be.”

With 151 winners in 2012 through Saturday, it’s clear Allen is putting the knowledge gained from over 25 years in the saddle to good use.

Silver Cloud makes mark

Silver Cloud stamped himself as one of the early favorites for the $75,000 Turf Dash here on Jan. 5 when he turned in a sparkling effort to take a five-furlong optional claiming sprint on Dec. 7.

Silver Cloud, who was making his first start since Oct. 20 for trainer Jason Dacosta, dueled into the stretch under Fernando DelaCruz and then drew away to post a 4 1/2-length victory while covering the five furlongs in a very quick 55.76 seconds.

Rosebud Road scores in Minaret prep

In the local filly and mare division, Rosebud Road is headed for a start in the $50,000 Minaret on Dec. 29 following her decisive Dec. 5 win in a prep for that race.

Rosebud Road was 4 1/2 lengths clear of her field in the six-furlong sprint, covering the distance in 1:10.18.

Trainer Stanley Gold, who had unsuccessfully tried to get Rosebud Road to handle middle distances, confirmed after the race he will point the Florida-bred for the Minaret.

Lopez on the scene

Veteran Chuck Lopez is riding at Tampa on a regular basis for the first time this winter. Lopez, a winner of more than 4,000 races lifetime, has been a mainstay on the New Jersey and New York circuits since the early 1980’s.

Marcelino Pedroza is another newcomer. Pedroza, whose family ties include jockeys Martin Pedroza and Cornelio Velazquez, comes here from Kentucky. The Panamanian native has won 95 races this season through Saturday.