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Robert Darby Sr enters 600 club

Observer staff reporter

Friday, October 06, 2017

Robert Darby Sr rose from being a racehorse lover to become one of the most successful and gifted trainers of thoroughbred racers at Caymanas Park.

Dubbed the “Claiming King”, Darby Sr became only the 10th trainer in the history of horse racing in Jamaica to saddle 600 or more winners. That milestone was achieved on Saturday last when the veteran won the seventh race with Ballon D'Or, ridden by in-form apprentice Dane Dawkins.

Darby Sr trails Wayne DaCosta (over 2,050 winners), Philip Feanny (over 1,980 winners), Anthony Nunes (over 850 winners) and Richard Todd (801 winners) for most wins as trainers at Caymanas Park who are still active in the racing industry.

Though he was very pleased to reach the landmark figure of 600 winners, Darby Sr said that being among the top all-time trainers is even more rewarding.

“I am really happy to have reached this milestone of saddling 600 winners at Caymanas Park, and I must thank all those who have and are still supporting me throughout the many years I have been in racing. It is most welcomed and appreciated.

“It took a lot of work from when I started as I didn't have the faintest idea that I would get there (saddling 600 winners), because I am not from a racing background and I had to learn from square one and it has been a well-deserved journey.

“However, one of the accomplishments that probably means even more to me than the 600 winners is that coming into racing I had admired a lot of trainers like Gerald Skelton, Aston Commock, to name a few, and when I find myself among the top 10 all-time trainers at Caymanas Park, I think it is a bit flattering,” he told The Supreme Racing Guide.

Darby Sr then shared some of the best moments he has had in the racing industry.

“I have been owning horses from 1980, and I then really fell in love with the sport and began to train horses in 1991. I even fell deeper in love with the sport when my first runner, within seven days of getting my licence — Wind Storm — won.

“I've had some really good times in racing. I had probably the horse that won at the longest odds in racing — a horse by the name of Corporate Knight, who won at odds of over 2,000-1 in a Two-Year-Old Stakes race.

“I claimed Prince Akeem for $170,000 and took the horse straight to the Superstakes where he finished second to the Trinidadian Adoring Groom in 1996. There is also Robin Hood, with whom I won eight consecutive races from maiden to Grade One,” he shared.

The “Magician” — as Darby is often called because of his magical ways of getting lame and ailing horses to run for him — disclosed that his main objective at present is to continue what he loves — training horses — until he can't do it anymore.

“I want to enjoy the balance of my trainer days. I don't know how long it is as I am not in the very best of health right now, but I am still hanging on,” Darby Sr said.