Friday, 08 September 2023 09:32

Dane Nelson secures first jockey's championship title at Canada's Century Mile

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DANE "The Warrior Chief" Nelson added to his credentials as one of Jamaica's most outstanding jockeys when he won his first jockey's championship at Century Mile racetrack in Edmonton, Canada, on Friday, September 1, 2023.

The 39-year-old Nelson booted a double to finish the season with 40 winners from 178 rides and Can$460,400. Jose Mariano Asencio finished second on 36 winners from 161 mounts, and Enrique Alonzo Gonzalez finished third with 31 winners from 168 mounts.

Fellow Jamaicans Linton Steadman (four victories) finished 13th, Richard Lunan (three wins) was 16th, and Andre Martin (two wins) was 19th. The race meet began on May 6.

Nelson won the second race while riding favourite Beautiful Mess for trainer James Wyness, and the seventh race while riding 24-1 outsider Smart Decision for trainer Jerri Robertson.

"It's a very grateful and overwhelming feeling to know that I've won another championship in my career. What makes this title even sweeter is that I won it on the international stage," Nelson said.

"It brings me joy and blessings. I've been putting in the effort and I'm simply glad it's paid off. Hard effort is the only way to achieve success, and Dane Nelson is all about it. I can't really complain because I've been having a terrific time at Century Mile with a fantastic agent named Bob Fowles.

"I must thank all the owners, trainers, fellow jockeys, grooms, connections, racing personnel, and everyone for their support and guidnace as without them this wouldn't be possible," Nelson further said.

Nelson opened his account when he guided three-year-old filly Beautiful Mess to a crushing 10-length in the Allowance Optional Claiming event for three-year-old and upward fillies and mares over seven furlongs.

Beautiful Mess, who was unhurried early on in the race, overtook rivals in deep stretch to win easily ahead of Miss McBride (Francisco Guerrero) and Queen Rhonda (Mauricio Malvaez) in a time of 1:24.28.

Nelson's second win came over six furlongs when he narrowly won the Maiden Special Weight event for three-year-old Alberta-bred runners, aboard Smart Decision, by a nose at the wire.

Smart Decision sat in striking position at the off on the inside rails and maintained his gallop well down the backstretch. Smart Decision cut the turn coming into the lane and responded well to a challenge from Brynn's Dream (N'Rico Prescod) in the final stages of the race, and narrowly prevailed after a long, hard drive. The final time for the race was 1:11.25.

"The feeling is always good when you win races as it builds your confidence. To end the race meet with a double is also a very good feeling as it showed that I am still in good nick. I am just happy and grateful for everything at the moment," Nelson said.

Nelson next turned his attention to Lethbridge at the Rocky Mount Turf Club, where he won two races on the first day of the meet on Sunday, September 3.

Nelson won aboard Paddy's Rocket in the $12,750 Alberta-Bred Three-Year-Old Stakes, and Dance Shoes in the $12,900 Alberta-Bred Fillies and Mares Stakes. Both horses are trained by James Brown.

Paddy's Rocket won the six-furlong race by three quarters of a length in a time of 1:12.30, beating Yes No Maybe So (Larris Allen) and Fallout Fire (Juan Apongo).

Dance Shoes was an easier winner, beating Tegan'sbestwilko (Andre Powell) and Fan From Peru (Larris Allen) by 11½ lengths over seven furlongs in a time of 1:26.04.

Nelson's season total on the international riding circuit now stands at 43, including a victory at the Assiniboia Downs racetrack in Winnipeg. Nelson began riding on the North American circuit in 2015 and has so far ridden 374 winners, 347 seconds, and 310 thirds from 1,984 mounts, earning CAN$4,223,837. His many winners included Double Bear in the CAN$150,000 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park on August 19, 2017.

Nelson has also won five races at the Santa Rosa Park in Trinidad and Tobago to round off his international career.

Locally, Nelson has ridden 1,217 winners since beginning his career in 2002 and has won four jockey's championships in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2020. Nelson's best win on home soil came on December 2, 2017 on She's A Maneater in the US$115,000 Diamond Mile.

Nelson will be in action at Century Downs tomorrow, where he has booked seven rides over the weekend. On Saturday, Nelson will have five mounts and two on Sunday.