Nunes set to hold off DaCosta's charge
FACING a deficit of $924,550 following SHE'S A MANEATER's breakaway and subsequent scratch in last Saturday's Diamond Mile, champion trainer Wayne DaCosta has his top American two-year-olds, STRANGER DANGER and AMERICAN INVADER, all set to complete the exacta in this afternoon's six-furlong Dye Job Sprint as he makes a desperate last-ditch bid to land an 18th title.
Included in the line-up are Fitznahum Williams' United States-bred debutant, SHACKLEVILLE, and five local-breds, including Nunes' pair of JUICE MAN and UNIVERSAL BOSS.
It will again be a matter of how far DaCosta's foreigners beat the rest of the field, with STRANGER DANGER preferred to AMERICAN INVADER following his roaring run to catch the filly on debut, installed the 1-2 favourite to beat his stablemate, who had won on her first start.
With an extra half-furlong to run, STRANGER DANGER, who had won at five and a half on debut, showed off his pedigree at exercise on November 25, clocking 1:05.3 for five and a half furlongs, the last five in 59.3, getting the better of AMERICAN INVADER.
Having clocked 1:06.0 for five and a half furlongs last time out with only a head separating them, both are leagues above the opposition and should quickly make their way to grade one next season.
Whereas DaCosta stands to earn $713,400 for a STRANGER DANGER-AMERICAN INVADER exacta and a possible win with down-in-class STORM, the champion trainer won't put a dent in Anthony Nunes' lead as FOOT SOLDIER, dropping from up the claiming ladder, won't lose at eight and a half furlongs in the eighth and SUPREME SOUL, BIGDADDYKOOL's half-brother by Soul Warrior - DISABILITY CHARM's sire - is also a cinch at a mile in the Andrew H.B. Aguilar Memorial.
NEXT TO IMPOSSIBLE
After the number-crunching and drama of Diamond Mile Day settled, Nunes registered a $1.8 million swing on champion Wayne DaCosta to surge $924,550 ahead in the trainers' standing, a lead which could have been $4m greater in another stride had the winning post not saved showboating Robert Halledeen's hide aboard WILL IN CHARGE.
It will be next to impossible for DaCosta to challenge Nunes, who has the Boxing Day $4 million Jamaica Two-Year-Old Stakes locked with CORAZON as the favourite to grab the $2.1 million winner's purse, while his stablemates are fancied to pick up scraps in a race in which the champion trainer's only hope is Diamond Mile Day debutant-winner RUN THATCHER RUN, SHE'S A MANEATER's half-brother, by Fearless Vision, making him a full brother to 2000 Guineas winner ALI BABA.
DaCosta, however, appears as if he's not going down without a fight and has SHE'S A MANEATER lined up in a graded stakes sprint, going five and a half, next Saturday. If that race doesn't fall through, she could very well pull a double shift by returning 11 days later in the Miracle Man Trophy, which replaces the Harry Jackson Memorial on Boxing Day, the distance reduced to nine furlongs and 25 yards.
Should she compete in both, the combined winner's purses is a little over $1.2 million, far less than DaCosta needs to chalk up an 18th trainers' title, considering Nunes' lead and his owners' penchant for claiming horses high and dropping low.