KINGSTON, Jamaica – The race is well and truly on for the honour to be crowned champion trainer for 2020.
Coming into last weekend’s two-day card of 10 races on Saturday, October 31 and nine races on Sunday, November 1, leading trainer and champion Anthony “Baba” Nunes stood atop the leader board by over $6 million.
At the end of the 19 races over the two days, Nunes’ lead had been cut down to just over $400,000 by 18-time champion Wayne DaCosta.
DaCosta had a memorable four winners from the 19 races on offer, capturing the three major big purse events, while Nunes saddled one winner over the two days.
DaCosta started in the fourth race on Saturday, when his talented but problematic filly England’s Rose was a decisive winner of the Supreme Ventures Sprint Trophy (six furlongs), which carried a winner’s purse of $819,000. Nunes earned in the Sprint Trophy as his charge Glock finished third, but DaCosta made up even further ground as his runners Loose Ball and Silent Seeker finished fourth and fifth respectively.
Then came the clincher for DaCosta.
King Arthur, ridden by Phillip Parchment and owned by Carlton Watson, racing at odds of 18-1 turned out to be the upset winner of the historic 100th running of the Jamaica Derby beating Nipster and Another Affair. Oneofakind trained by Nunes earned the fourth slot in the Derby.
From King Arthur’s Derby win, DaCosta earned from the total purse of $6.5 million the winner’s share of $3,510,000. For placing fourth with Oneofakind, Nunes carried home $292,500, according to the figures provided by the Racing Office of the promoting company.
On the Sunday card, Nunes struck first in the day’s fifth race when Legality recovered from a bad start and being interfered with to win the winners’ purse of $491,400. For his part DaCosta picked up $81,900 with his Drummer Boy finishing third.
Nunes added $81,900 to his tally in the sixth with Let It Fly, who finished third. DaCosta did not earn in the sixth race.
Another heavy blow was struck by DaCosta in the eighth race – the Cash Pot “Only One for Me” Trophy when Den Street with Anthony Thomas in the saddle emerged from the clouds on the wet track to catch and beat Nunes’ Hoist The Mast (Dick Cardenas).
Than win by Den Street put another $1,774,500 into the kitty of DaCosta, while Nunes earned another $591,000 from Hoist the Mast, finishing second.
Further earnings were had by both trainers in the Cash Pot as Santorini for Nunes finished fourth and Super Duper and Miniature Man trained by DaCosta were fifth and sixth respectively.
The nightcap on Sunday produced another head-to-head battle between the two trainers involving Born Diplomat for Nunes (Dick Cardenas) and Big Mama (Anthony Thomas) for DaCosta. In this stretch duel, DaCosta’s Big Mama got the better of Born Diplomat by half-length.
There are not many big money races left on the calendar as the Gold Cup, the Superstakes and the Diamond Mile have all been scrapped on the reshuffled racing programme because of the novel coronvirus pandemic.
There is, however, talk making the rounds that two fairly big races are being planned for December but nothing official has been said by the promoter.