Nunes to crack the whip today
Anthony Nunes could win as many as four races this afternoon as he continues to peel away from defending champion 17-time winner Wayne DaCosta in the trainers' title race, which took a dramatic turn when SHE'S A MANEATER bolted and was scratched from the Diamond Mile.
Nunes has been making the most of his rival's misfortune, saddling seven winners in the last two race days, and could meet another four on the dirt this afternoon - debutant TOONA CILIATA, Oaks winner FAYROUZ, FASHIONISTA and MUSKETOON.
TOONA CILIATA, a Soul Warrior half-sister to PALACE GOLD, part-owned by Diamond Mile-winning owner Wilbert Bagwandeen, leading owner Stephan Narinesingh, and Ajax Bjorn, should get the Nunes show rolling from the first of 10 events scheduled.
One of the many hot two-year-olds Nunes has in his arsenal, TOONA CILIATA, galloped five furlongs round in 59.4 Wednesday morning, making his only threat DaCosta's ROJORN DI PILOT.
DaCosta's ROJORN DI PILOT was upstaged by Nunes' UNIVERSAL BOSS on his November 17 debut, after disputing the lead for four of five furlongs on the round course. UNIVERSAL BOSS returned on Saturday to run a respectable race against DaCosta's top importee, STRANGER DANGER, suggesting ROJORN DI PILOT should also be better the second time out, especially at five furlongs straight.
FAYROUZ could lead a Nunes rout of races seven to nine, returning to the track after not being nominated for the Diamond Mile, which allowed BIGDADDYKOOL in through the back door and subsequently picking up second place in the drama-filled event.
BIGDADDYKOOL's $2.2 million, added to Nunes' superior numbers, which is evident in the 29 more starts he has had than DaCosta so far this season, has all but snapped his rival's 12-year reign as champion trainer.
Sitting cozy on a $1.5-million lead, Oaks winner FAYROUZ is expected to keep Nunes' bankroll spinning, in receipt of eight pounds from topweight ANOTHER BULLET, who has never been a two-turn specialist and is too heavy to try slipping the field.
DaCosta's entries, eight-year-old HOVER CRAFT and four-year-old UNCLE FRANK, are both light at 107lb and 110lb, respectively, with apprentice riders aboard. However, FAYROUZ, an impressive winner at the level on September 29 when taking the Fontainbleu Trophy at seven-and-a half-furlongs, had UNCLE FRANK five lengths behind her.
FAYROUZ was also six lengths clear of HOVER CRAFT when finishing fourth behind WITHOUT EXCEPTION in the Invitational Mile on Superstakes Day.
Gary Subratie's imported SARATOGA SIGHT, a battling winner at a mile in overnight allowance company, narrowly beating BIRDIE MY LOVE and ROYAL VIBES, is a horse to keep an eye on, now stretched out at a distance after finishing seven lengths behind sprinters - MR UNIVERSE, CAMPESINO and PATRIARCH - at five furlongs straight.