Wayne DaCosta and I had a really special relationship beyond racing – Derrick SmithFriday, April 16, 2021
BY RUDDY ALLEN
IN his tribute to the late Wayne DaCosta, retired Parliamentarian and racehorse owner Derrick Smith described the 18-time champion conditioner as a close family friend and a true professional.
DaCosta, a winner of 2,290 races at Caymanas Park including seven Derby victories, four Diamond Mile triumphs, two Triple Crown winners and three consecutive Superstakes wins, died on March 24, 2021 from complications of COVID-19.
“I found him [Wayne DaCosta] to be a true professional at his game, and his record shows that fact. I found him to be a genuine man and someone who gave his owners professional advice; you know owners have a tendency to get emotional with their thoroughbreds and he [Wayne] would not want them to get emotional.
“He would be frank with you and tell you to get rid of that animal if it is costing you too much.
“He is a no-nonsense man; he did not stand for foolishness neither from the staff he had nor the jockeys, nor the racing administration. He attacked incompetence straight up. What you see with Wayne is what you get.
“Over the years, Wayne became a close family friend. My wife and all my children have grown up to see me dealing with Wayne as my trainer. Our hearts are all broken that he had to leave so prematurely. Condolence to his wife Elizabeth, daughter Stephanie and son Jason.
“Jason is here now and I hope that he finds it possible to carry on his father's legacy here in Jamaica,” Smith said.
Smith then shared some experiences on his long and fruitful journey with Wayne DaCosta. Smith said that it took some convincing but DaCosta eventually accepted what was the start of a successful relationship.
“I have been owning horses from 1976 and up until 1984 when I approached Wayne, and I had gone through five trainers, but that was the year that Wayne had Thornbird — I guess his expertise was well-advertised.
“A school friend of mine by the name of John Ruby, who knew Wayne, took me to his stables to convince Wayne to have me as an owner. Wayne was in great demand at that time and so it took some convincing at the time to accept me, which he did.
The first horse that I took to him was Prince Zalair, a grey horse.
“Shortly after, I gained tremendous success with Prince Zalair under the care of Wayne. Our first win I think was on November 3, 1984. We went on to complete three consecutive victories with Prince Zalair. Since then I have had scores of horses with Wayne.
“I can't remember most of them but I can surely remember Pax Te Cum, Royal Malice, Golden Harvest, Silver Patriarch. Approaching by 50th birthday my wife contacted Wayne and told him that she wanted him to find a horse for me that would mark that milestone.
“Wayne agreed and we went to Orange Valley Estates and he brought this young chestnut colt as a weanling. That horse eventually became champion two-year-old, that horse was Mr Sensational. He won a car for me after winning the then Toyota Cup, which was the major two-year-old mile race in December.
“The year after, Mr Sensational went on to win the 2000 Guineas — which was my first Classic victory — with Joseph Buchanan as the jockey. There were many other horses, including Spectacular Run who won the Caribbean Cup, and we had one that was named The Dictator and Rio Cobre, which was an imported horse.
Smith shared that he and DaCosta went on another of their journeys in the quest to find and buy another champion racer.
“This time we got Seeking My Dream.
“ Seeking My Dream won the Jamaica Derby, the first two Diamond Mile races, and was voted twice as Horse of the Year in 2015 and 2016 and unfortunately, he had foot problems and we had to retire him,” Smith said.
“Of note, one horse that Wayne had for me that didn't win any race nor placed in a race and that was a horse by the name of Can Be Anything. He [the horse] got that name because Wayne couldn't tell what the horse could do. Wayne said he can be anything and so we named the horse Can be Anything, and he never did anything,” Smith said with laughter in his voice and a smile on his face.
“I have lost a friend, a true freind, and racing has lost one of its greats. Rest well, my friend,” Smith ended.
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