Samy Camacho believes he is stronger, more focused and making smarter decisions than a year ago, when he was commuting each morning from GoldMark Farm in Ocala to ride the afternoon card at Tampa Bay Downs.
His agent, Mike Moran, says that horsemen can rely on Camacho to deliver his best effort on every mount. But there are times when the 28-year-old Venezuelan needs to slow things down enough to ensure he has enough horse for a final push toward the wire.
“Samy gives 100 percent every race. It doesn’t matter if it’s a first-time starter or a green horse from Ocala, and people like that,” said Moran, a past leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey. “I’ve told him he just has to relax and have a little more patience, because you can’t ride them all the way around.
“Sometimes you need to relax and take it easy, and then when it’s time to go, you’ll ask the horse and they’ll give it to you,” Moran said.
The outgoing Camacho, who approaches each day as a learning experience, has climbed to eighth place in the Tampa Bay Downs jockey standings with 26 victories. Over a recent span of 11 racing days, he booted home two winners on four separate occasions to earn the Hampton Inn & Suites Jockey of the Month award.
Camacho has benefited from the tutelage of Moran and other valued mentors throughout the meeting. Among his numerous teachers, in addition to his agent, are fellow jockey Orlando Bocachica; leading Oldsmar rider Daniel Centeno, who is also from Venezuela; and his father Samuel Camacho, Sr., a past leading jockey at La Rinconada in Caracas who works as a hotwalker on the Oldsmar backside.
“I talk to them every day, and I know they’re always there to help me,” said Camacho, who won the Jockeys’ Challenge during last year’s June 30-July 1 Summer Festival of Racing and Music by riding five winners. “My father tells me to stay relaxed and keep riding winners. (Centeno) is always telling me different things and he congratulates me when I win a race.
“(Bocachica) tells me to stay behind horses, try to keep my horse relaxed and then make one big move,” Camacho added.
Camacho’s brother, 26-year-old Samuel Camacho, Jr., is based in New York. “I keep telling him to come here because New York is really tough, but he never listens to me,” Samy said.
But Samy, who lives locally with his wife Kismar and their three children, plans to make Tampa Bay Downs his winter home for the foreseeable future.
“This is my place, and now that I’m here instead of driving from Ocala I can check at the barns every day and talk to trainers,” said Camacho, whose recent winners have included horses trained by Gerald Bennett, Chad Stewart, Reid Nagle and Teresa Connelly. “I just need more trainers to keep noticing me.”