Friday, February 27, 2009


OLDMSAR, Fla. (February 26, 2009) On Valentine’s Day, 2008 jockey Ron Allen, Jr. rode in a race for the first time in four years. The 42-year-old was mounted on his father’s trainee Tricks of Glory, and the two swept the lead to win the third race by three lengths. "It was a great feeling," said Allen, a three-time leading rider at Tampa Bay Downs who in his career has won over 2,100 races and amassed mount earnings of more than $15 million. "There's just no feeling like riding in a race. I really missed it." He continued, “This is where I love to be, with the excitement and action.”

In the 1980s, Ronnie Allen, Jr. was a major force in the Tampa Bay Downs jockey colony. After falling in with the wrong crowd at the end of the race day, Allen found himself with fewer mounts and he finally left the race scene and went to work on a farm for Jerry Campbell, who is one of his father’s (trainer Ron Allen, Sr.) major clients. Ronnie Allen said of his experiences on the farm, “Even though I wasn't riding, I was working with horses every day, thank God, because that's all I've done all my life is be around horses." He continued, "I actually learned quite a bit working on the farm. I learned things most riders never pick up."

Over a year has passed since Allen returned to the saddle, and he has made his comeback in style. For the current Tampa Bay Downs meet, Allen is ranked as the third overall rider with 43 wins, 45 second and 41 third-place finishes through 51 days of racing. “It feels wonderful. It’s a dream come true again. I thought my career was about over, and I got the urge to get back into it and it’s working out fabulous right now. A lot of people remember me from years back, when I was leading rider. They all gave me a shot, and they see that I still have it. I appreciate everything, the way everybody’s helping me.” Allen says that his favorite moment on the track since he got back into the irons was a tie between his first win on February 14th for his father and his four victories on a single card on March 29, 2008.

Allen’s family includes his brother Mike, also a jockey at Tampa Bay Downs; his half-brother Kevin Allen; a sister named Kimberly who is a successful horse owner; his father, trainer Ron Allen, Sr.; as well as a son Christopher Allen, of whom Ronnie says, “He’s sixteen; he doesn’t have anything to do with the horse racing at all. He wants to be a basketball player, or something along those lines.” When he’s not in the irons, Ronnie Allen, Jr. says he likes to, “Rest! Usually rest. I like to go golfing, too - something relaxing.”

Finish lines… Tampa Bay Downs’s leading rider Daniel Centeno took home four wins on today’s ten race card; Centeno’s first victory came aboard Valid Cureincy, a four-year-old son of Valid N Bold owned by Colebrook Farms and trained by Ashlee Brnjas. Centeno struck again with Wild Turk, this time for conditioner Gerald Bennett and owner Harold L. Queen.

Centeno took home his third win with Scooter Roach. The ten-year-old Mi Cielo gelding is under the care of Jamie Ness and is owned by Midwest Thoroughbreds. The duo of Ness and Cernteno teamed up again for a victory in the ninth race. Lucky Dreamer, a Florida-bred son of Lucky North who carries the colors of GJK Stable, haltered his sixth lifetime win for his connections and his second career win over the Tampa main track.

Racing excitement continues this week at Tampa Bay Downs with the $65,000 Wayward Lass Stakes for fillies and mares four years old an up competing over the main track at 1 1/16 miles on Saturday, February 28. Sunday, March 1 is Kids and Family Day at the Oldsmar oval, with free games, pony rides and more in the Tampa Bay Downs Backyard from noon through 3 PM.

Racing resumes tomorrow, February 27 with an eleven race card; the Pick 6 carryover is $3,229.83 and the High 5 carryover is $4,643.50. The Silks Poker Room is open daily from 12:30 PM through 12:30 AM, and The Downs Golf Practice Facility is open on Mondays from 10:00 AM through 10:00 PM and on Tuesdays through Sundays from 8:30 AM through 10:00 PM.

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