Thu | Aug 13, 2020

DaCosta shows his hand

Published:Friday | December 21, 2018 | 12:00 AMAinsley Walters/Gleaner Writer
POKER STAR (left), with Omar Walker aboard, powering to victory at Caymanas Park on June 16 this year.

SITTING $127,700 behind leader Anthony Nunes, who is hunting his first trainers' title, 17-time champion trainer Wayne DaCosta has crafted a plan to wipe out his rival's expected $2 million winner's purse from next Wednesday's Jamaica Two-Year-old-Stakes,even before he has earned it, compiling a quintet of runners who could pocket $2.08 million this afternoon.

Drafting an ambitious Christmas list for Santa, should DaCosta's five-timer plan pan out, Nunes could be left with sleepless nights for the remaining two race meets of the season.

Calling out the down-in-class pair of POKER STAR ($360,350) and WINTER IS COMING ($393,100), new transferee, BULLET RAJ ($327,600); SERGEANT RECKLESS ($491,400) and BRANDY ($507,750), DaCosta is priming himself to stage the biggest comeback ever in local-racing history, following his December 1 disappointment with stable star SHE'S A MANEATER, who bolted at the gate and failed to defend her Diamond Mile crown worth $6 million.

In addition to his top five, DaCosta also has RAMBUNCTIOUS LINKS, first-timer MY LITTLE PRINCESS, and RICKY RICARDO has potential earners, rounding off his eight starters on the 11-race programme.


Nunes, gifted a second-place run and $2 million in the Diamond Mile with BIGDADDYKOOL in SHE'S A MANEATER's absence, has nine runners on the card, three of whom have sound chances of winning - better-since-lasix TWILIGHT HEROINE, much-improved K J EXPRESS, and well-bred debutante WESTERN WHEELS - in the Sunnyside Stakes.

DaCosta is assured of at least a three-timer with POKER STAR, WINTER IS COMING and BULLET RAJ whereas SERGEANT RECKLESS, and BRANDY have steeper tasks.

POKER STAR was sound enough to gallop two furlongs in 24.2 last week Wednesday morning and should last out the minimum distance of five furlongs round in the second. He last raced in the November's Caribbean sprint and placed sixth of nine runners.

Nunes has APOLLO BAY in the $210-$250,000 claiming event, plus there is POKER STAR's former stablemate, LOOSE CANNON, who hasn't been seen since June.

WINTER IS COMING was only five lengths behind Nunes' out-of-class ORPHEUS, going seven furlongs, on December 1, which practically hands him the third at a mile. BULLET RAJ has bullied his way into winning three races on $250,000 tags since July, making him a clear choice among $180,000 claimers in the fifth at five furlongs straight.

Where it gets dicey for DaCosta completing a five-timer is SERGEANT RECKLESS, who could be susceptible to the closing speed of Gary Subratie's CHEROKEE WAY in the eighth, a six-furlong event in which the speed could collapse.

BRANDY was an impressive nine-length winner, going a mile on Diamond Mile Day, but she is up in class and facing Philip Feanny's MY SUPER GIRL, who, though she has never gone farther than five-and-a-half furlongs, appeared a different animal when clocking 1:06.1 the same day SHE'S A MANEATER posted 1:05.1 in a driving finish to beat CHACE THE GREAT by a head.