10/07/2005 12:00AM

Tears of joy after Vintage Year's romp

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FORT ERIE, Ontario - Armand Concessi was almost successful in fighting back tears as he exited the winner's circle after his first-time starter Vintage Year romped to an 11 1/4-length victory here Tuesday in a maiden special weight race.

"I can't even talk right now," said Concessi, the owner, trainer, and breeder of Vintage Year.

Later, he said, "The horse was born two days after our son, Armando, was born - exactly at the same time, 6:30 a.m. We wanted to name the horse Six Thirty but it was rejected."

Concessi felt the colt was special from the start.

"I took my time with him and didn't care how long it would take to get him to the races," he said. "He has miles and miles under him and he has had his sicknesses and things, and came back."

Vintage Year, a 2-year-old son of Tethra, was a big reason why Concessi took five horses to Woodbine in early March to prepare for this season. He had started up Vintage Year, alone, a month earlier at John Carey's Shelbourne, Ontario, farm, where the colt was boarded.

"At Woodbine, he walked into the gate like he had been there a hundred times," said Concessi, who is enjoying a banner season with 20 victories. He had 13 in each of the last two meets here.

Concessi is eyeing Woodbine for Vintage Year's next start, in a nonwinners-of-two or an Ontario-sired stakes.

Vintage Year's half-brother Ellerbeck Street, a 3-year-old by Porto Foricos, has flopped as a racehorse. Concessi said he would now be a riding horse.

Ellerbeck Street was 126-1 in his last start here Aug. 23. He finished 10th in the bottom-level maiden claimer. In his six lifetime starts, ninth was his best finish.

Dacosta has big week

Rider Roderick Dacosta put on a conspicuous performance in the past racing week at Fort Erie.

Dacosta, 37, a native of Jamaica, had 3 wins and 2 seconds from his 5 mounts. Both losses were by just a nose. He now has scored 19 times at the meet for a win rate better than 22 percent, tops at this track.

Dacosta hopes the accomplishment will land him an agent.

"Hopefully I can get one for next year," said Dacosta. "I've never really had one here."

Dacosta, a successful jockey in Jamaica - he was champion apprentice there in 1986 - first came to work in Canada in 1991. Although his goal was to be a jockey, he has mainly been employed as an exercise rider.

He is no fan of Canadian winters.

"When it gets too cold, I always go back to Jamaica," he said. "There I have my owners and trainers - I get live shots to ride."

Dacosta is thankful to trainer Ross Armata, his present employer, for allowing him to ride and providing him with live mounts.

"Not many trainers would do that," said Dacosta, who was 1 for 16 at Fort Erie last year and 2 for 20 in 2003. "Last year I didn't ride much and didn't get any live horses. Nobody got a chance to see me."