Racing industry mourns ‘legendary’ DaCosta
There was palpable grief hanging over the local horseracing industry following yesterday’s passing of many-time champion trainer Wayne DaCosta.
DaCosta, who won a record 18-time championships, had been hospitalised in the Intensive Care Unit of the University Hospital of the West Indies for the past few weeks and had been placed on a ventilator after developing COVID-19 related complications.
When The Gleaner visited the usually crowded exercise areas at Caymanas Park yesterday morning, only a few individuals could be seen, with many of the trainers, jockeys, and grooms leaving the park early some stayed away from the facility upon receiving news of the legendary trainer’s death.
Reigning champion trainer, Anthony ‘Baba’ Nunes, who dethroned DaCosta two years ago, too distraught to speak at the track, was still visibly shaken hours later,as he shared his respect for his long-time rival and the impact his passing will have on the industry.
“Obliviously today (yesterday) is a very sad day for racing as an industry as we have lost a giant,” said Nunes. “A lot of people believe that myself and Wayne weren’t friendly, but the truth is we worked very closely at one time. Obviously as rivalries go, you become a little more serious, but I think there was a mutual respect for both of us.”
“Wayne was basically who motivated me to be the best trainer that I could be, and so he just drove me to be a champion trainer, and maybe there is no Anthony Nunes without Wayne DaCosta, and so it goes hand-in-hand,” said and emotional Nunes.
Trainer Philip Feanny, who was DaCosta’s apprentice master in the 1970s, believes that the industry has lost a great asset.
“We have lost a colleague, unfortunately, but the industry will be worse off, but what can we do? Life goes on,” said Feanny. “We came into the game together, and we both did very well. He did his thing, and I did my thing, and we were both successful. He was a very good competitor and a very tough competitor, and so the industry is going to miss him.”
Meanwhile, another veteran trainer, Richard Azan, took time to reflect on his long association with DaCosta, noting his sadness at his passing.
“It is a very sad feeling because Wayne has been a colleague for 50 years,” said Azan. “From we were teenagers Feanny, Wayne, and myself were always together, involved in horses, not only at the track, but outside the track, and it is really sad to see that we have reached this stage in life where we start dying.”
Minister of Sport Olivia Grange also paid tribute to DaCosta, highlighting his influence on the sport.
“His contribution has been mammoth, and his impact will continue to be felt for a long time. Wayne DaCosta is simply one of the greatest trainers that Jamaica has produced, and he quite rightly won the trainers’ title a record 18 times,” Grange said.
“If horse racing is indeed the sport of kings, then Wayne wore his crown with distinction,” Grange added.
DaCosta, who was in the racing industry for over 40 years, last won the trainer’s title in 2018. He won more than 2,000 races during his career.