D’Angelo Relishing Every Moment With Dubai World Cup Contender Jesus’ Team

Dreams shape the future and for 30-year-old trainer, Jose Francisco D’Angelo, one might come true this Saturday, when his charge Jesus’ Team (USA) lines up for the 25th anniversary of the $12m Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline.

The former leading Venezuelan handler found himself travelling across states during his first full year of training in the USA, him behind the wheel and his precious cargo, Jesus’ Team in the back.

During the spring of 2020 the bold bay walked into D’Angelo’s Palm Meadows barn and since then has taken the trainer, his team and owners to new heights.

“This horse has put me on the map,” D’Angelo said.

He provided trainer D’Angelo with a first ever starter in an American Classic race when 3rd in the 2020 Grade 1 Preakness Stakes, behind subsequent US Horse of the Year Authentic and champion 3-year-old filly, Swiss Skydiver.

That week was characterized by fresh experiences and an extensive amount of pressure, but also carried an introspective undertone. D’Angelo’s grandfather had died mere weeks earlier.

“When my grandfather passed away I was driving the truck from Saratoga to Monmouth for the Preakness, it was the day after the (Grade 2) Jim Dandy. I heard whilst I was driving and I had to stop, it was too hard,” the trainer recalled.

“I dedicated the Preakness to my grandfather because I felt him with me. I couldn’t go to his funeral in Venezuela because I was with ‘Jesus’ and because of the pandemic I couldn’t travel.”

A scintillating performance at Pimlico was followed by a runner up finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile, behind Knicks Go, a win in the Claiming Crown Jewel Stakes and another second placing behind the aforementioned foe in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational.

Foreign riches beckoned and connections started dreaming of greater goals by the end of the autumn, when the Dubai World Cup became a target. Groom Angel Ayala, regular rider Willo Mercado and trainer D’Angelo left for the United Arab Emirates in mid-March.

When watching the elite contenders during morning workouts it is the exuberant Jesus’ Team, with his blinkers, draw reigns and free striding action, who always seems to catch the eye.

A spirited character, the Grupo 7C Racing Stable runner has taken to the Meydan dirt track and a customary trick or two suggests the dark bay to be in top condition.

“Jesus is a little bit like a baby. He looks like a professional on track, but in the barn he wants to play like a 2-year-old. Jesus is a very delicate horse. You have to be able to deal with him,” said D’Angelo.

Even though the preparation has gone exactly as hoped, with Jesus’ Team improving every day, D’Angelo knows anything can happen in the lead up to the race itself.

Adrenaline was pumping through the veins of D’Angelo during the Dubai World Cup draw, but the nerves subsided after a satisfactory stall 9 was announced.

“I’m very nervous, I would like Saturday to come right now. But we can do this. I’ve gone to the stable at 10pm, 11pm, 12pm. Talking to him: ‘Hey ‘Jesus’ you all good?’ I check in on him, change the water. He makes a soup out of his feed, mixing it with water, so I have to clean it,” says a smiling D’Angelo.

The post D’Angelo Relishing Every Moment With Dubai World Cup Contender Jesus’ Team appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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