The last time Ronnie Allen Jr. was leading rider at Tampa Bay Downs,
Ronald Reagan was president, “Walk Like an Egyptian” by the Bangles was
the top tune of the year and gas was selling for around a dollar a
But should Allen continue to win at the rate he has maintained for
the last month or so, the 46-year-old has an excellent chance to be
leading rider here for the first time in 23 years.
Allen won riding titles here in 1984-85, 1986-87, and 1987-88, and is
in the midst of his best season since returning to the saddle in 2008
after a five-year hiatus away from racing. He is currently third in the
standings behind Daniel Centeno and Leandro Goncalves.
Centeno has 78 wins at the meet, 17 more than Goncalves and 19 more
than Allen, But Centeno went down in a March 11 spill here, suffering a
separated pelvis. With Centeno out for approximately three months and
with Goncalves heading to Kentucky to ride at Turfway and Keeneland
after this Friday’s card, the door is suddenly open for Allen to make a
run at the title. The Tampa meet runs through May 8.