Surprise!

After 1000 winners, Nunes surprised by his grooms

BY RUDDY ALLEN
Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

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Anthony “Baba” Nunes earned his 1000th victory as a conditioner, when his three-year-old chestnut colt and first-time runner Yetagain captured the second event at Caymanas Park on Saturday, May 18, 2019, to become the fifth trainer to do so in the history of racing in Jamaica.

After reaching this historic landmark, there was a public announcement of his achievement but Nunes left the winners' enclosure talking with jockey Robert Halledeen as there was no champagne to spray around or no gifts of thanks to be had.

After leaving the winners' enclosure, “Baba” quietly made his way to his stables and upon arrival received the surprise of his life.

Nunes' grooms and other stable workers made contact earlier in the week with his wife, Tara, and together they hatched a plot to celebrate with the trainer.

When Nunes arrived at his stables, a banner reading “Congratulations — Anthony 'Baba' Nunes — 1000 career wins” was posted on the stable fence and all grooms and stable lads were outfitted with T-shirts with the same message as the banner.

To say that Nunes was surprised would be an understatement.

“It totally rocked me, it bowled me over, I was mesmerised with joy. I never expected this sort of reaction from my grooms, their planning along with my wife was kept secret and for me, there could not be a better way of celebrating 1000 winners.

“I thank them, I appreciate it a lot, as the grooms who have worked with me over the years are the ones who have made the difference, they are the ones who have helped to make 1000 winners possible.

“Today (Saturday), I am a very happy man,” Nunes stated with strong emotion in his voice.

As to the accomplishment of saddling 1000 winners, Nunes had no doubts as to the sources of this particular triumph.

“Winning 1000 races means that I have stuck to the task of the profession that I chose when I was young back in 1994. There are a lot of ups and downs in racing, mostly downs and I stuck to it, I never gave up, and I believed in the formula we are working with to make things successful.

“I am so grateful for not only for the owners who give me the money to go out and buy the horses each and every year, but I must be thankful for all the staff members that I have had in my 25 years of training from my first win with Centre Stage to my 1000th.

“For me it has always been a group effort, it is a team effort and I am very thankful for each and every one who has played a part,” Nunes told The Supreme Racing Guide.

Nunes now joins Wayne DaCosta (2172 winners), Philip Feanny (2018), Allan Williams (1120) and Kenneth Mattis (1070) to have won 1000 or more races.

“There have been some great moments during my career. My first great moment was in 1998 when I won the Jamaica Derby, the Trinidadian Derby and the Superstakes with Terremoto, all in the same year. That still has to be a highlight of my career, especially been so young in the game at that stage.

“Along the way, we have been fortunate to win four Jamaican Derbies and two Trinidadian Derbies; we have won four Superstakes and numerous Guineas both colts and geldings and fillies; Governor's Cups; Jamaica Oaks; Jamaica St Legers; some 'A' Class races.

“We have been so very, very fortunate and blessed to be where we are now and I hope that the 'man' upstairs still has me in his mind to stick around that we continue to do this,” Nunes stated. His Derby winners were Terremoto, Technomoto, Relampago and Orpheus.

Nunes said that achieving this milestone could not have been made possible without the performances of his horses.

“While, the owners, jockeys, grooms, staff members and everyone who helped him along the way played an important role, the horses also did their part.

“We have had Terremoto, Royal Image, obviously still Bigdaddykool as well as Latonia and Exotic Dancer.

“I mean, there was also Technomoto, Pittacus and Ad Infinitum and these are horses that made me who I am and made me look like I am a decent trainer by them winning the big races. Without them, Anthony Nunes is just a regular guy.

“Horses are my love. My family sometimes tells me that I put them [the horses] before them but that is not true. My family is my number one goal always, but they [the horses] come a very close second,” explained a now smiling Nunes.

One more accomplishment that Nunes wants to achieve is winning the trainer's championships and he currently leads the standing comfortable ahead of DaCosta and Gary Subratie.

“I am not thinking about the trainer's championships and that is the truth. As a said before and it is well-documented; I have run second 11 times and obviously, I want to win a championship but I said to myself at the beginning of this year that if it going to happen then it is going to happen and if it doesn't I am OK with it now.

“Maybe earlier in my career I wouldn't be OK with it, but I have reached the stage in my life now where I am Ok with it and I like winning Classic races and training for these good owners that I have and so that is good enough for me.”


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