Battle continues for trainer's crown
ANTHONY Nunes has thrown the kitchen sink, and then some, at defending champion Wayne DaCosta on Wednesday, gunning to continue, or even better, his post-Superstakes form, two winners per day, in his relentless chase of a first trainers' title.
Meanwhile, Nunes' stable rider, Dick Cardenas, hunting a second jockeys' title, on Saturday trimmed Dacosta-backed Anthony Thomas' lead to seven wins, the closest it has been between them so far this season.
Thomas opened the 10-race card with 2-1 shot LADY JAELA for Ryan Darby. However, Cardenas responded with a three-timer - Nunes' double, UNBREAKABLE and UNIVERSAL BOSS, before closing with FRIENDLY NEIGHBOUR for one of his backers, Carl Anderson, in the sixth event.
A determined Nunes is expected to make further inroad into DaCosta's bankroll for the third straight meet after reducing the champion trainer's lead by $700,000 and $800,000, respectively, for the last two racedays, the stakes difference now at $2.7m, down from $4.2m, following SHE'S A MANEATER's narrow Superstakes win against WILL IN CHARGE.
Nunes has four runners - MATRIARCH, ICE COLD, ORPHEUS and K J EXPRESS - the latter two having great chances of being unsaddled in the winners' enclosure, as opposed to DaCosta whose lone hope among four starters is the unreliable PURE HEART in the third, a winner without penalty, disqualified on last, aiming at three-year-old maidens, going nine furlongs and 25 yards.
Thomas and Cardenas have each secured seven rides. However, Cardenas' mounts are more appealing, especially K J EXPRESS in the 10th, locking horns for the second time in a week and a half with former Philip Feanny inmate, SERGEANT RECKLESS, who now reports out of DaCosta's barn with Thomas aboard.
K J EXPRESS narrowly lost to run-on sprinter GARRINCHA in a pace that was bound to come back at five and a half furlongs, having SERGEANT RECKLESS two lengths behind. With the distance cut back to five furlongs round, Nunes and Cardenas get the nod in the night pan.
Meanwhile, do not underestimate ORPHEUS' lack of activity at exercise. The five-year-old horse has made his way back down to overnight allowance where he won in January and followed-up with a victory up in class the next month.
ORPHEUS is a top open allowance horse. In July, he was similarly prepared for a five-furlong straight event and lost by a head to CAMPESINO, running at odds of 4-1
DaCosta's RADICAL has a way better draw on the wide outside at five furlongs straight in the fourth. Nunes' ICE COLD is faster but drawn down along the rail. However, neither is any match for ANOTHER VIGOROUS and NUCLEAR FLIGHT, who have exchanged two victories against each other so far.