KINGSTON, Jamaica – Not even the most creative of Hollywood writers could have envisioned and written that jockeys Anthony Thomas and Dane Nelson could be tied on 84 wins going into the last two race days of 2020.
During most of the truncated racing year due to COVID-19, Nelson was the dominant force among the jockeys with winners coming aplenty. At one stage it appeared that Nelson would have been home and dry with the ‘Fat Lady’ prepping to sing. Nelson was so dominant that his lead at one time was as much as 20 wins.
Then came a lull for Nelson and the sudden resurgence of Thomas. The winners started to flow for Thomas as he overtook Nelson and opened what seemed, at the time in late October and in November, to be an unassailable lead of 17.
Like what happened with Nelson, Thomas, the man from St Mary as he is called by racegoers, hit a slump allowing Nelson to regroup especially on the last three race days to tie up the contest for the right to be called champion jockey for 2020. Both Nelson and Thomas are former champions with Nelson winning the title three times and Thomas once during his four years of riding.
The Wednesday card of December 23, started with Nelson, the man known to his legion of supporters as the “Warrior Chief”, equalling the score on Thomas after piloting Stanislaus to victory in the second race. Thomas did not ride a winner on Wednesday.
Now there are two race days left in the year— Saturday, December 26 with the traditional Boxing Day fare on offer and Sunday, December 27 —and all is at stake.
Thomas has secured seven rides on the 10-race Saturday programme while Nelson will jump atop eight rides.
On the Sunday card, both riders have eight rides each.
So all is set for an intriguing end in the battle of the top two riders currently plying their trade at Caymanas Park.
Elsewhere on the championship boards, current trainers’ champion Anthony Nunes is on course to successfully defend his crown.
There were some jitters for Nunes after his nearest rival, Wayne DaCosta, won the Jamaica Derby in October with King Arthur backed up by a slew of winners but that challenge has petered out. Nunes has been dominating the two-year-old races and goes into the last two race days of 2020 with a lead of over $5 million. He also holds a strong hand in the big money races on offer over those two days.
In the owners’ championship, Michros hold a lead of over $3 million on Carlton Watson in what seems to be a slam dunk issue.
The Michros owned Nipster, winner of this year’s Jamaica St Leger, sits in the number one slot as the top earning horse for the year. Nipster leads King Arthur by over $2 million.
While in the breeders’ category, Ham Stables Limited has an unassailable lead.
The top sire based on stakes earned is Casual Trick who stands at the Orange Valley stud farm. Next in line is Adore The Gold followed by Blue Pepsi Lodge. Casual Trick, the sire of the likes of Nipster and Wow Wow, leads his counterparts by over $10 million.