Defiant DaCosta cuts deficit
FIGHTING with his back against the ropes, champion Wayne DaCosta yesterday slashed Anthony Nunes' lead in half to end the afternoon $870,700 behind his rival, who he upstaged in two key races, keeping alive his hopes of landing an 18th trainers' title. Nunes, who entered the midweek meet on a high, saddling seven winners in the last two race days, was stumped by DaCosta in the very first race when the champion trainer's ROJORN DI PILOT narrowly won at odds of 2-1 with Omar Walker, beating 9-2 market-springer ENEDINA, with Dane Nelson.
Nunes' 1-5 favourite, the debutant TOONA CILIATA, was bumped at the start and could only manage third in the seven-horse field of two-year-old maidens.
DaCosta returned to floor another howling Nunes favourite, Jamaica Oaks winner FAYROUZ, who flattened out at odds of 3-5 in the stretch run, while challenging long-time leader SARATOGA SIGHT, finishing fourth in the seventh event at nine furlongs and 25 yards.
The race was won by DaCosta's eight-year-old warrior, HOVER CRAFT, who sat off the pace with apprentice Christopher Mamdeen and came forward a furlong out to collar SARATOGA SIGHT, winning the open allowance contest by two and a half lengths.
Nunes got some reprieve in the ninth event, a runaway victory for down-in-class MUSKETOON, a 3-5 favourite with Dane Nelson aboard.
Pundits next await Saturday's return of DaCosta's superfilly, SHE'S A MANEATER, who had bolted prior to the start of the $13.9M Diamond Mile, costing the champion trainer millions in stakes, which handed the lead to Nunes, whose BIGDADDYKOOL finished as runner-up to WILL IN CHARGE, earning $2.2M. SHE'S A MANEATER is down to line-up against eight rivals in the War Zone Sprint at five and a half furlongs, carrying 126lb against the likes of Caribbean Sprint champion CHACE THE GREAT. Nelson, who is booked to partner CHACE THE GREAT, booted home two winners yesterday, NUCLEAR LAVA and MUSKETOON, sharing top honours with Javaniel Patterson, who won aboard 41-1 longshot, GO GO GIRL, and NUCLEAR THUNDER at 9-1 in the night pan.