Trainer DaCosta bemoans scarcity of top jocks
CHAMPION trainer Wayne DaCosta is hoping new horse-racing promoting company Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited's prompt payment of purses will help to retain the services of top local riders, who have moved overseas, as well as to once again attract overseas riders to Caymanas Park.
DaCosta told STAR Sports there was a massive void of talent in the jockeys' colony because a lot riders have migrated to North America in search of greener pastures.
"We have got a new promoting company that has taken over and, hopefully, things will change. They have started on an excellent note, paying persons within four to five days, so I am hoping in the future it will attract some of the good jockeys back," he said.
"Financially, the jockeys go abroad and earn far more money than what they earn here," said DaCosta.
Jockeys Dane Nelson, Shamaree Muir, Neville Stephenson, five-time champion Trevor Simpson and Andrew Ramgeet are among some of Jamaica's top jockeys plying their trade in North America.
Nelson, in an interview last year, said the wait to be paid purses in Jamaica caused jockeys to become touts.
"At CAN$80-odd to J$1, the purses are way better. I was second in the Northlands Derby and earned CAN$4,000. Everybody respect Jamaicans," said Nelson.
"Every morning, I can collect $50 easy, just galloping horses. Here, you either have to be winning or touting. In Jamaica, you work all week free for trainers, yet when the overnight comes out, you don't see your name.
"I get my pay every Wednesday. Here, I have to wait a month to get paid. That makes no sense. When you go away, you don't want to come back. That's why the jockeys have to be running away," he said.
DaCosta recalled the days when jockeys from the region and Central America, especially Panama, would ride at Caymanas Park.
"Jockeys from all over the Caribbean and, back in the old days, jockeys from Panama used to come here and use Jamaica as a stepping stone before going to Florida, but nowadays they skip Jamaica because of the financial problems," he pointed out.
Among the Panamanians to ride locally are Dick Cardenas, Jorge Campines and his brother Carlos Graell in the 1990s and, in the 1970s, Jose Bravo and Albino Ubidia.