For the last two years, Ness has captured the training title at Tampa Bay Downs; in the 2007-2008 race meet, the 34-year-old native of Shakopee, MN haltered a record 68 victories and $959,710 in total purses here. Ness gained an interest in horse racing through both his father and grandfather. “My grandfather took me to the track when I was four years old, and I’ve been hooked ever since,” say Ness. He cites his greatest influence in the sport as his father, saying, “My father was a trainer, and I grew up in the summers going to tracks with him to work. Racing got into my blood at an early age. My father is a very good horseman and he showed me how to do it the hard way, without any big owners or big horses.” Ness has had great success with his “blue-collar” horses and though he keeps his barn open to many jockeys, he credits Daniel Centeno as his go-to rider of the moment. When he’s not at the barn – “which isn’t often!” he says, he plays basketball at local gyms.
Racing resumes tomorrow, January 23 with a ten race card; the Pick 6 carryover is $7,433.16, and the High 5 carryover is $4,211.23. 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.