Now that the greatest Jamaican race horse trainer of all time has put down his marker as such by winning the only Grade 1 race to escape him over the years, namely the Burger King Superstakes, I know racing statisticians want to have a career breakdown of his greatness. So here goes:
CLASSIC RACES WON BY WAYNE DACOSTA
Thornbird was Horse of the Year 1984
War Zone was Triple Crown Champion & Horse of the Year in 1996
Seeking My Dream was Horse of the Year 2016
She’s A Maneater was Triple Crown Champion in 2017
Additionally, She’s A Maneater has almost certainly locked up the Horse of the Year Award for 2017. Wayne is a 16-time champion trainer (well on his way to #17 this year) and the leading trainer all-time in stakes won and winners saddled.
I’ve written elsewhere that the secret to Wayne’s separation from all others is the meticulous nature of his approach to his work. He’s the only trainer I’ve known to habitually enter his horses’ stalls and examine each horse (especially the hoof and joints) himself without depending on any report from a groom. With his grooms, he’s a severe taskmaster refusing to tolerate even the most simple procedural error or (horror of horrors) careless omission.
Once, many years ago, I was at evening stables doing the rounds with Wayne when we paused at the stall of a particularly promising youngster to spend some time observing while Wayne brought me up to date with whatever family chat was the order of the day. The horse was a magnificent specimen.
While I was busy admiring the horse, like a bolt from the blue a thunderous Wayne DaCosta voice shouts out the name of a groom. Loudly. Very loudly. And angrily. My left eardrum is still recovering. In three seconds flat a groom was seen scurrying from the other side of the barn “yes trainer”. “John” (name changed to protect the guilty) when last you clean out this stall?” “This morning, trainer,” was the polite but certain reply. “John” the voice had become very cold, “don’t play with me (or words to that effect; this is, after all, a family newspaper). “WHEN LAST YOU CLEAN OUT THIS STALL???” “This morning, trainer” came the reply but this time with a slight tremolo. “Look up there,” said the trainer, pointing to the top back corner of the stall (pigeon hole for you football fans). “See that cobweb?” “Yes trainer” very meekly. “If I come back here in five minutes and that cobweb is still there, you’re fired!”
Don’t ask me how he spotted the cobweb so far away and in the darkness of the pigeonhole when there was a beautiful horse to admire and a good friend with whom to gossip. That was, however, quintessential Wayne DaCosta.
In all the years I’ve known Wayne, his first and foremost starting point has always been the horse’s comfort. Everything else is secondary. Clean surroundings are essential to that end.
It’s time for our regular review of local performances based on REAL times.
Abbreviations: CT = “Corrected Time”; TV = “Track Variant” (a calculation of the effect of track conditions on official times to arrive at “real” or “corrected” times); TVs are in fifths of a second; “minus” means a fast track; “plus” means a slow track (e.g. -2 means fast by 2/5ths of a second). Variants beside individual horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.
Let’s look at two dry weather race days for a change:
November 11, 2017 [TV -0.3/200m]
Commander Two (-13) returned to form with tongue-strap removed (Race 2; 2yo maiden condition; 1200m; TV-2) winning by 13l in 1:12.0! His CT (1:12.2) is 2/5ths second faster than the 2yo stakes standard and 2 seconds faster than 3yonw2 so he has races to win if not tried too highly in 2017.
Diligent (-7) beat a deep field (Race 4; 4yonw3; 1400m; TV-2) by 1 3/4l in 1:26.3. His CT (1:27.0) is just a tick faster than nw3/OT but the 2nd, Baby P (-5), produces a CT of 1:27.2 which is 3/5ths second faster than the grade. Losses are only lent.
Commanding Aviator (-8) narrowly beat Hologram Shadow (-7 ½) the pair 7l clear (Race 10; $350,000 claimers; 1300m; TV-2). The winner’s CT (1:20.4) is 4l better than $450,000 claiming standard where both can win.
November 18, 2017 [TV – 0 (Rd); -4 (Lady Exotic) – 3 (Pizarro)]
Memory of TS (-8) prevailed against a high quality field (Race 9; $450,000 Claimers; 1400m round) by 1 3/4l from Taranis (-6) with Str It Up (-5)/ Dashboard (- 4 ½) 3rd/4th. The winner’s time (zero variant) is 3/5ths second faster than $550,000 claimers so she can win up in grade. The 2nd/3rd/4th (1:27.1; 1:27.2; 1:27.2’) are 6, 5 and 4 ½ lengths faster than the $450,000 standard so all have a race to win here.
Nuclear Train (-7) hacked up by 7l (Race 7; 3yonw2 fillies; 1600m) in 1:40.2 which is 3/5ths second faster than open nw3 so another race restricted to her sex is hers for the taking.
Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)
Shane Lowry, my very early pick for the Dubai World Championship of golf, gave us all a thrill by posting the Sunday clubhouse lead before ending up tied for 2nd (33/1 pre-tournament).
Tiger Woods returns for next week’s Hero World Challenge in The Bahamas but it should take him a few weeks to regain peak fitness so it’s Jordan Spieth to capture that prize.
The Ladbrokes Trophy Chase (handicap) is the best jumps race on offer for the next two weeks (Newbury; December 2; 3m2f; 10.00am Jamaica time). Despite going up 18 lbs in the handicaps, Irish Champion Trainer Willie Mullins’ Total Recall still looks a snip based on the facile manner of his come-from-behind win at Limerick in a Grade ‘A’ 3 mile handicap Chase when he beat Alpha Des Obeaux by 7l.
On Saturday, November 25, Nick Gifford, who has been hinting at a return to form, sends Theo’s Charm to contest the Betfair Newton Novices Hurdle (listed race) at Haydock over 2 miles (7.10am Jamaica time). He was third on reappearance over fences at Plumpton last month but his chasing career hasn’t quite taken off as was hoped, so this return to hurdles and testing ground could be what the doctor ordered.
Finally, a notebook horse for National Hunt English Racing fans:
Jameson [5 br.g Midnight Legend – Shatabdi (Mtoto)] wore down forcibly ridden Western Miller and won last stride in only his second race over fences (Sandown; Novice Handicap Chase; 2m 4f; good to soft) so should have scope for improvement in this sphere. Afterwards, jockey James Bargary said: “Jameson jumped brilliantly and stuck on gamely up the hill. He wants better ground and a left-handed flat track would suit him best, so he’s done well to win. He’s a nice horse and has a great attitude”
Since Sandown is a right-handed track with a stiff uphill finish, imagine how much better Jameson will be when he gets his preferred track and surface!