One of the most prolific trainers in the history of horse racing in Jamaica, Wayne “Anthony” DaCosta, passed away yesterday, leaving the racing industry and the broader sports fraternity in mourning for a man hailed as a legend for his invaluable contribution to the sport of kings.

DaCosta had been hospitalised in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) from last month because of COVID-19 after initially quarantining at home, but succumbed to complications of the virus.

He would have celebrated his 66th birthday in October this year.

DaCosta, who was involved in the racing industry for over 40 years, saddled a total of 2,290 winners — the most by any trainer in Jamaica. He won the trainer’s championship on 18 occasions, also the most by any conditioner in Jamaica.

DaCosta won the Triple Crown twice with War Zone (1996) and She’s A Maneater (2017). He accounted for seven Derby victories in Thornbird (1984) War Zone (1996) Good Prospect (1999) Perfect Neighbour (2013) Seeking My Dream (2015) She’s A Maneater (2017), and King Arthur (2020). He also won the three consecutive Superstakes with She’s A Maneater in (2017) 2018, and 2019.

DaCosta cleared even greater heights when he won the first three Diamond Mile races with Seeking My Dream (2015 and 2016) and She’s A Maneater (2017). She’s A Maneater went on to win the Diamond Mile for a second time in 2019, giving DaCosta four victories out of the five times the event was contested.

“Wayne gave his all to his family and racing. As a husband and father, he was truly dedicated and giving to his children, Jason and Stephanie. Truth be told, I could not have asked for anything more from the man who was my husband and the father of my children,” DaCosta’s wife, Elizabeth, said yesterday.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness paid tribute to DaCosta, noting the “significant” and “invaluable” role he played in the local horse racing industry while pointing to his Diamond Mile victories at Caymanas Park.

Sport Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange said DaCosta served horse racing with distinction.

“His contribution has been mammoth and his impact will continue to be felt for a long time. Wayne DaCosta is simply one of the greatest trainers that Jamaica has produced, and he quite rightly won the trainers’ title a record 18 times,” Grange said.

“If horse racing is indeed the sport of kings, then Wayne wore his crown with distinction,” the minister added as she offered condolence to his widow, children, and other members of the family.

Racing Secretary Denzil Miller hailed DaCosta as a true professional of his craft and said that he will be greatly missed by the entire racing industry.

“Firstly, I want to send condolence to his wife Elizabeth, son Jason, daughter Stephanie, assistants Linval “Pickins” McFarlane and Greg Fennell, and the entire team of grooms at his stables. Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), particularly the Racing Department, will miss Wayne’s competitive spirit and his deep knowledge of horse racing.

“We were just blessed to be able to be at the Park to witness some of his greatest moments as he moulded his horses into true champions,” Miller said in his tribute to DaCosta.

McFarlane who has been with DaCosta for over 40 years, first as a groom and then as an assistant trainer said he was lost for words upon hearing of the death of his trainer.

“Trainer was like a father to me. We went through good times and bad times, but we always stayed together. I grew to understand him very well and knew what he wanted from each and every horse in the stables,” McFarlane said.

“As a groom, I will never forget how we prepared War Zone for the Triple Crown, Seeking My Dream to win the first Derby for owner Derrick Smith, and when Seeking My Dream won the first two Diamond Mile races. Yes, those moments were special, but just being around the trainer was always special.

“Right now all I can say to Miss DaCosta and the children is to be strong, we are with you, and we will support you,” added McFarlane who, like his trainer, is a member of the Racing Hall of Fame.

DaCosta’s other notable victories are five 1000 Guineas winners: (1984) Thornbird; (2003) One One Nine; (2005) Si Mi Trial; (2006) Swing By; and (2017) She’s A Maneater. Four St Leger winners: (1996) War Zone; (1999) Good Prospect; (2013) Perfect Neighbour; and (2017) She’s A Maneater. Seven Caribbean Sprint Championship (1987) Aggressive Time; (1999) Spectacular Run; (2000) Ruckus; (2004) J ack De Prince; (2008) Ahwhofah; (2009) Ahwhofah; and (2015) P oker Star.

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