Sunday, January 13, 2013

Jason DaCosta, Trainer

A Tampa Bay Downs insider’s opinions, observations
 and reflections about their favorite sport


Gradually, but with unwavering purpose, DaCosta is emerging from the shadow cast by his father, perennial-leading Jamaican trainer Wayne DaCosta. The 27-year-old Tampa Bay Downs newcomer was his father’s assistant for five years, but his memories of accompanying the Jamaican Hall of Fame conditioner to his Caymanas Park barn date to early childhood. After two years in college studying business administration, Jason arrived in the United States in 2009. Despite slow going his first two seasons, he has emerged as a force to be reckoned with in Florida. At the current meet, he has saddled eight winners and four runners-up from 18 starters. His 5-year-old gelding Silver Cloud finished second in the recent $75,000 Turf Dash.


HOMETOWN: Kingston, Jamaica.


BEST HORSE I EVER TRAINED: My first horse, a Florida-bred filly named Miss Aristocrat owned by my father. She won her first two races at Calder in 2009 and was third here in the Gasparilla Stakes and second in the Suncoast Stakes.


HOW I GOT STARTED IN RACING: Being around my father and his horses since I was a baby.


MY BIGGEST INFLUENCE: Again, my father. He is the best horseman I know. He taught me to be hands-on, check all my horses every day and not to cut corners.


ONE CHANGE I WOULD MAKE TO RACING: Establish more aftercare programs for retired racehorses. These animals bring us so much pleasure, and I’d like to see as many as possible rehabilitated and pointed toward second careers, not neglected or mistreated.


MY FAVORITE ATHLETE: My countryman, Usain Bolt. He dominated at the last two Olympics, and he was the first man to win gold in the 100 and 200 meters and the 4x100 relay.


NO. 1 ON MY BUCKET LIST: Winning a Breeders’ Cup race.


WHAT ELSE I’D BE DOING IF. … This is what I’ve always wanted to do. I really haven’t thought of anything else.


MAJOR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JAMAICAN AND U.S. RACING: On race days, the fans back home are a lot more passionate. You see guys on street corners with a transistor radio pressed to their ear, the stands are packed and there are off-track betting parlors everywhere.


FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT TAMPA BAY DOWNS: The track is an excellent surface to train on, the atmosphere is quiet and laid-back and the people are friendly.


FAVORITE MOVIE/TV SHOW: Secretariat and The Big Bang Theory.


ADVICE TO SOMEONE STARTING IN RACING: Keep at things and work hard. It’s a tough game with a lot of ups and downs, but hard work does pay off.


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