Orville Clarke, Sunday Gleaner Writer
Returning champion trainer Wayne DaCosta highlighted yesterday's 10-race programme at Caymanas Park with three winners to take an early lead in the championship as usual.
His winners were SOCIAL BUTTERFLY, a 4-5 favourite in the sixth race over 1600 metres for maiden four-year-olds, as well as RIO COBRE at 7-5 in the seventh race over 1100 metres for overnight allowance horses and MY FRIEND LUCY, an 8-5 favourite under former champion jockey Dick Cardenas in the ninth race over 1400 metres for four-year-olds and up.
Significantly, his winning horses were piloted by different riders. The American five-year-old gelding RIO COBRE was ridden by jockey Leo 'Twitch' Miller, whose winners are few and far between these days.
RIO COBRE chased the fleet-footed MR SKILL into the straight and moved ahead approaching the distance to beat him by 11/4 lengths in a field of seven.
Earlier in the afternoon, the grey filly SOCIAL BUTTERFLY made all. She turned for home with a commanding lead and although shortening in the last 100 metres, held on by a short head from the fast-finishing HOGANS HERO under newly crowned champion jockey Dane Nelson.
SOCIAL BUTTERFLY provided 4.0kg claiming apprentice Holanda Butler with his first career win.
Butler, the valedictorian from the last batch of apprentices which graduated from the Jockeys' School in August, should have had his first win aboard the DaCosta-trained SIR VON on New Year's Day. But the horse was disqualified for causing interference in the last furlong.
Meanwhile JAYLEN, running at odds of 6-5 with Shane Ellis riding for trainer Lawrence Freemantle and owner Carlton Watson, snapped the winning streak of 2-5 favourite RAISE A RUCKUS to land the City of Kingston Centenary Cup feature (high claiming) over a mile in post-to-post fashion.
Former record-priced yearling ($3.4 million), BIGMAN IN TOWN, made an impressive debut in the opening race over 1200 metres for maiden three-year-olds.
The chestnut colt by Cowtown Cat - My Morning Prayer was ridden by former champion Omar Walker for trainer Gary Subratie and Trinidadian owner Baskaran Bassawh. After the win Basswah BIGMAN IN TOWN said he is a better horse than his 2011 2000 Guineas winner BIG MAN BOYU.