Horse Racing

The top 10 moments to remember

Friday, January 11, 2019

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THE racing year that was 2018 was filled with loads of excitement, some intriguing happenings and a fair share of spills and thrills.

The team at the Supreme Racing Guide sat together for the hard task of choosing the top 10 moments to remember during the 2018 racing. In making their decisions, team members took into consideration several factors including impact on the sport of racing itself and the sway these moments had on the wider Jamaican public among other criteria.

The final 10 moments chosen are published in order of preference.


Without a doubt, the 2018 trainer's championship title involving trainers Wayne DaCosta and Anthony Nunes was captivating to the bone as, for the last three months of the year, race day after race day, the two gladiators battled, made some major upheavals in the placement of their racing stock in order to earn even a smidgen. Despite losing his trump card, She's A Maneater before the start of the Diamond Mile and surrendering the lead in the championship race on December 1, DaCosta dug deep and won the championship for the 13th consecutive time and 18th overall. The ultimate day for DaCosta came on Saturday, December 22 when he saddled five winners to regain the lead over Nunes. On that momentum, DaCosta then pulled off a win in the Jamaica Two-Year-Old Stakes on Boxing Day 2018 with Run Thatcher Run, a race which Nunes was expected to dominate. For his part, Nunes was in the never say die mode, he never gave up an inch and fought to the bitter end.

You know when a moment captures the imagination of the wider public once videos are placed on social media, when serious bets are made and when dicussions are heated and plentiful…such was the case with the 2018 DaCosta – Nunes championship race.


The most dramatic, incident-filled feature race ever in the 59-year-old history of horse racing at Caymanas Park unfolded on December 1 before and during the fourth running of the Diamond Mile in front of thousands of racing fans and television viewers who were left bewildered by the sequence of events. The richest race in the country ended with Will In Charge scraping home by a short head over Bigdaddykool with Chace The Great third. Will In Charge took over the lead with about a furlong and a half to go but jockey Robert Halledeen literally stopped riding, deciding instead to prematurely celebrate thus allowing jockey Dick Cardenas to push Bigdaddykool closer and closer, with Bigdaddykool just failing to pip Will In Charge. Before all of Halledeen's machinations in the saddle, which could easily have cost Will In Charge's connections the glory of a Diamond Mile victory, the gala event of the year suffered a cataclysmic shock when the at the time 3-5 on favourite and defending champion, She's A Maneater bolted from the number 12 starting stall. With thousands left in disbelief, the most well-known horse in the country then jumped the rails and continued running loosely in the infield where Diamond Mile guests were enjoying their day at the Park.

For Will In Charge it was the culmination of a remarkable year, winning five of his seven races.


The hoofprints of the truly gifted bay filly She's A Maneater sunk even deeper in the sand at Caymanas Park after her glorious yet truly gutsy and determined victory in the 40th running of the 10-furlong (2,000m) Burger King Superstakes at Caymanas Park on November 10. She's A Maneater had been beaten by Will In Charge on three occasions in the season and many believed that she would once again fall victim. However, She's A Maneater outdid Will In Charge by a short head in a driving finish to the wire. The stands at the Park shook heavily as racing fans rose to see and cheer the two best horses in training as they engaged in a battle royal during the entire stretch run, with Omar Walker on She's A Maneater and Robert Halledeen on Will In Charge giving no quarter, riding as if their lives depended on it. It was back-to-back wins in the Superstakes, for She's A Maneater and trainer Wayne DaCosta as the Natural SelectionAhwhofah offspring came home in a personal best time of 2:05.0.


The Gold Cup is the top handicap race during the racing year and the Robert Pearson-trained Will In Charge ran a majestic race to win the 7 furlongs (1,400m) event on October 13. In doing so, Will In Charge maintained his undisputed dominance over She's A Maneater. It was a victory which, placed the Adore The Gold Gem Lea offspring as the top thoroughbred racer in Jamaica. Further confirmation came with the final time, a blistering 1:23.1, which was just two-fifths of a second off the 1994 track record set by the mighty Eros. The recorded splits were 23.0 x 45.1 x 1:09.0. Second was Another Bullet (36-1), four lengths behind the winner and third She's A Maneater, the 1-5 on favourite.


Anthony Thomas was one of 20 apprentices who started their riding career in 2015. It was a slow beginning for the young St Mary native as his colleagues Linton Steadman, Bebeto Harvey, Dane Dawkins, Javaniel Patterson and Odeen Edwards were riding winners race day after race day. To his credit, Thomas remained steadfast in his work and his attitude. He was early at the track in the mornings and steadily started to build his confidence. Then the breakthrough came for Thomas about midway during the 2017 season with winners aplenty. Thomas was now reaping the rewards of his hard work. On Superstakes Day (November 11) Thomas crossed the boundary of the ordinary when he won the Sprint Championship on Chace The Great. Then came a chance ride at very late notice in the Superstakes itself on the warm ante-post favourite, She's A Maneater, and what a ride Thomas delivered! He waited, then pounced with the assurance of a seasoned jockey in what was a truly spectacular moment for the young man. Thomas finished 2017 in third position in the jockeys' championship with 53 winners behind champion Omar Walker on 69, and Shane Ellis on 59. A manifestation of what can be achieved with hard word and good manners. Then came 2018 and the improving Thomas achieved one of his life-long dream of being a champion jockey. Thomas rode a total of 96 winners to outdo Dick Cardenas (85 winners) to win his first ever senior jockey's championship at Caymanas Park.


Three-time champion jockey Dane Nelson became the eighth rider to win 1,000 or more races in the history of thoroughbred racing at Caymanas Park on December 12. Nelson reached his milestone when he guided the Anthony Nunes-trained Musketoon to a 6 -length win going 6 furlongs (1,300m). Only Winston Griffiths, (1,663), Trevor Simpson, (1,469), Charles Hussey, (1,239), Shane Ellis (1,194), Andrew Ramgeet (1,149), Emilio Rodriquez (1084), and Omar Walker (1,011) have won more races. Nelson won riding titles in 2012, 2013 and 2014.


With a brilliant ride from three-time champion jockey Dane Nelson, Bigdaddykool, the Anthony Nunes-trained bay gelding, tuned in a superlative performance to beat reigning Horse of the Year, She's A Maneater by length in the first staging of the $1.3 million Miracle Man Cup over 9 furlongs and 25 yards (1,800m) on Boxing Day, 2018. Nelson and Bigdaddykool tracked the leaders from close off the pace and when She's A Maneater and Omar Walker went through to the lead running the half-mile turn, Nelson and his mount went with them. The two separated themselves from the rest of the field and the battle for supremacy developed into the straight but Nelson on the outside kept his mount going well and Bigaddykool began to edge away in the end with Nelson easing up. Bigdaddykool ran the distance in a time of 1:54.2.


The 2018 Burger King-sponsored Super Day of racing (Saturday, November 10, 2018) was a historic one for trainer Dwight Chen. Not only did Chen saddle Chace The Great to win back-to-back Caribbean Sprint Championships but he also achieved his 300th career win in the process. Chace The Great won by two-and-three-quarter lengths ahead of Mr Universe (Omar Walker) and Peking Cruz (Dane Dawkins). The final time for the six-furlong (1,200m) dash was 1:11.0. After the race Chen said: “It is a very good feeling winning 300 races in my career. Horse racing has been the major part of my latter years — I would say for the last 15 years or so — and I must say it has been an enjoyable journey and I am looking forward to more. I am kind of slowing down a bit now. I mean, a small barn and better horses, but it has been a good journey for me and I have no regrets.”


On December 1, Run Thatcher Run, a two-year-old chestnut colt by Fearless VisionAhwhofah making him a half-brother to Guineas winner Ali Baba, Invitational Mile winner Without Exception and Triple Crown heroine She's A Maneater, made his first assured steps on the racetrack in competitive racing. He won the Jamaica Observer Trophy over 5 furlongs (1,100m), beating Scoobert and Earn Your Stripes by 2 lengths in a time of 1:06.3. His next race was in the Jamaica Two-Year-Old Stakes and Run Thatcher Run defied the odds of moving almost immediately from 5 furlongs to a mile to win by length which placed him at the top juvenile lot in the land.


On the very last day of 2018, news surfaced that executive chairman of the promoting company, Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), Michael Bernard, would not be renewing his one-year contract. Mother company, Supreme Ventures Limited moved quickly to fill the gap left by Bernard, appointing well-known racing man, Solomon 'Sala' Sharp as the non-executive chairman of SVREL.

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