News & Barn notes

Centeno Looking To Add To Distinguished Riding Career After Shifting His Tack To Monmouth Park For The Summer

May 15, 2024

Daniel Centeno has been riding long enough to know there’s a basic tenet for having any chance at success for a jockey.

Follow the business.

The 52-year-old native of Caracas, Venezuela, a winner of more than 3,300 races in the United States, says he is doing just that this summer as he shifts his tack from Maryland to Monmouth Park.

After riding one winner on opening weekend at the Jersey Shore track, Centeno expects business to pick up for Monmouth Park’s second weekend of racing that starts Saturday.

“My business has been changing a little bit lately,” said Centeno. “I don’t really have that much business right now in Maryland. A lot of people from Tampa have come to Monmouth Park for the summer and I have the support of (trainer) Jorge Delgado.

“So I decided to make a change.”

While it is a change from his recent post-Tampa Bay Downs routine, since he has not been a regular in the Monmouth Park jockey colony since 2015, it’s not as if Centeno is unfamiliar with the surroundings.

He first started having riding success as a Monmouth Park regular from 2007-09, providing the groundwork for a career that has seen him with six Tampa Bay Downs riding titles and one at Presque Isle.

He has also ridden occasionally at Monmouth Park the past eight years, usually driving up from Maryland. He was at Monmouth Park full time in the summer of 2015 as well.

“I’m not trying to be a leading jockey any more. I’m just trying to win more races – as many races as I can,” said Centeno, who won 847 races in Venezuela before coming to the U.S. in 2003. “That’s what I enjoy most at this stage of my career, winning races. The main goal is to stay healthy and win races.”

Centeno will still ride at Delaware Park and Colonial Downs, when the latter opens July 7, with the difference being his base is now Monmouth Park. In 19 of the past 20 years he has ridden at least 100 winners, having started his career in the United States riding at Thistledown, Mountaineer and Finger Lakes.

“You get used to the travel,” Centeno said. “Around here I drive to a lot of different tracks. I’m just at Monmouth Park now. So I don’t think things will be too much different for me.”

Among Centeno’s most noteworthy victories are a pair of wins in the Tampa Bay Derby. He has won three Grade 2s and four Grade 3s, but a Grade 1 win has remained elusive.

“I keep trying,” he said. “Hopefully I will get more opportunities.”

One of those opportunities came the first Friday in May, when Centeno rode Power Squeeze to a sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks. It was his first time being at Churchill Downs.

“Very exciting, especially right now to get those kinds of opportunities. It’s something you really appreciate,” said Centeno, whose father is a retired boxer and boxing trainer.

Saturday’s feature race for the third day of Monmouth Park’s 51-day meet is the Spruce Fir for Jersey-breds. There is a Jersey Shore Pick 6 carryover of $37,241 entering the card.

First race post time is 12:50 p.m.