OLDSMAR, Fla. (March 12, 2009) Carlos M. Cruz was born on October 14, 1962 in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. He attended jockey school there before coming to the United States to ride. He won his first race in 2001 at the Finger Lakes Race Track, and has since ridden at venues such as Philadelphia Park and Monmouth Park in New Jersey.

This is Cruz’s first year riding at Tampa Bay Downs, and the reinsman has already made an impact on the riding colony here. In the week of March 3—March 8, Cruz booted home 3 winners, 2 seconds and 2 third-place finishers from only 12 mounts at average odds of 7.28-1. Through the current meet, Cruz has won 15 races, come in second 15 times and third 10 times as of March 11, 2009; he also has $163,218 in purse earnings through 61 days of racing.

Cruz says that he has many reasons to like life at Tampa Bay Downs. “Even though it’s been a little tough for me to get started because I’m new here, the people are nice. They gave me a shot to ride and have helped me out a bunch. And I love the weather here.”

When he’s not in the irons, Cruz says that he likes to spend time in the outdoors. “I love to fish, but sometimes I just like to go outside and lay in the sun. Of course, sometimes I just like to stay home and relax!”

Please note that Tampa Bay Downs will switch its dark days from Wednesdays to Thursdays mid-month beginning on March 19th; Mondays at the Oldsmar oval will also be open for only poker, golf and simulcast racing throughout the month.