Supreme Soul surges to Jamaica Derby win, marches closer to Triple Crown

By Lance Whittaker June 29, 2019
 Jockey Shane Ellis aboard Supreme Soul surrounded by winning connections after his JM$8 Million (US$62,000) Boom Jamaica Derby triumph Saturday at Caymanas Park. Jockey Shane Ellis aboard Supreme Soul surrounded by winning connections after his JM$8 Million (US$62,000) Boom Jamaica Derby triumph Saturday at Caymanas Park. Photo by Lance Whittaker

The huge 1-5 favourite Supreme Soul weathered a stout challenge from his Governor’s Cup rival Sentient to score a two-length victory in the Boom Jamaica Derby at Caymanas Park on Saturday afternoon. 

Ridden by Shane Ellis for leading trainer Anthony Nunes, April’s 2000 Guineas champion battled past the 5-1 bet Sentient inside the final furlong to win the JM$8 Million (US$62,000) event and complete two-thirds of the Triple Crown series.

“He has it (Triple Crown) in his sights and we are heading towards it,” Ellis said about the Triple Crown target as he aims for the July 27 St Leger.

Supreme Soul clocked a modest two minutes 38.80 seconds over the 12-furlong trip, the joint slowest Derby-winning time -- with Typewriter’s 2012 run -- this decade.  

The second placed Sentient was followed home by Supreme Soul’s stablemate Tricky One (10-1), a further six lengths back. The result reproduced the identical order of finish they had in the Governor’s Cup a month earlier.

“It’s a fantastic feeling, I cannot describe the feeling,” Supreme Soul’s Trinidadian owner Chevan Maharaj said after his first Jamaica Derby success.

With the field void of any speed horses, five-time Derby winning rider Ellis had eased Supreme Soul to lead passing the stands for the first time, stalked by Inspired Miracle, King Tavari and Princess Ava.

At the midway point, Sentient accelerated sharply from fifth place to tackle the front-running Supreme Soul, whose stablemate Princess Ava (17-1) remained within striking distance.

Leading rider Christopher Mamdeen then urged Sentient alongside Supreme Soul leaving the backstretch and kicked into a two-length lead coming off the final bend.

After stepping off the rails into the homestretch, Sentient looked strong as Supreme Soul appeared unsteady and kept drifting wide instead of quickening toward the lead as he tried to deliver an outside challenge. A few sharp left hand cracks of the whip by Ellis appeared to refocus Nunes’s chestnut colt, who drew level at the eighth pole before edging away for the win under right-hand whipping.

“He loves to idle …. I wasn’t worried,” Ellis asserted in his post-race interview with SportsMax, addressing Supreme Soul’s stuttering effort early in the homestretch.

Nunes was securing his fifth Jamaica Derby victory but conceded Sentient produced a huge scare with his surge approaching the home-turn, reminiscent of his May 25 Governor’s Cup bid when he fought off Supreme Soul’s come-from-behind challenge until a few metres before the finish.

“Sentient made my heart go in my mouth leaving the 3/8ths pole,” he said.

“I certainly wasn’t confident a furlong and half out but his (Supreme Soul’s) class and his staying ability kicked in,” added Nunes, who also has a pair of Trinidad & Tobago Derby wins on his log -- Terremoto (1998) and Academy Award (2016).

A victory for Supreme Soul in next month’s St Leger would uncork a second Triple Crown winner in three years at Caymanas Park after She’s A Maneater’s triumph in 2017.

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    Champion jockey Ricky Jadoo’s perfect ride for champion trainer Glenn Mendez secured a near two-length win for the Jamaica-bred colt Juice Man in Thursday’s Trinidad and Tobago Midsummer Classic at Santa Rosa Park.

    A 2-1 joint second favourite in the small seven-horse field, Juice Man, in just his second start in T&T, successfully tackled the front running 16-1 bet Blue Navigator approaching the final turn and galloped stoutly to victory by 1-3/4 lengths in the TT$125,000 (US$18,800) event. The even-money favourite Apocalypse was second and Making Headlines (12-1) third.

    The Justyn Kanta Persad-owned Juice Man clocked two minutes 00.40 seconds for the 9-1/2 furlong trip and Mendez is now keen to start the Lakeland Farms-bred colt in the September 24 Trinidad Derby.

    “We will look for (another) race or two before the Derby,” Mendez said of Juice Man, who won his T&T debut in early July just a couple of months after his last race in Jamaica in March. The Storm Craft out of Passion colt had logged two wins from eight starts at Jamaica’s Caymanas Park from Triple Crown winning trainer Anthony Nunes’s barn.

    Top trainer John O’Brien’s Blue Navigator with Panamanian jockey Nobel Abrego held an uncontested lead for most of the trip but late on the backstretch, Jadoo accelerated Juice Man to move within a length of the lead with Regal Intension (2-1) and Apocalypse under Canada-based Barbadian jockey Patrick Husbands within striking distance.

    Coming off the final bend, Juice Man shot past the tiring Blue Navigator while the quickening Apocalypse went in chase with Regal Intension and Making Headlines in challenging positions as a mere three lengths separated the first five horses at the top of the homestretch.

    Jadoo, who rode 34 winners in 2018 to snatch his fifth jockeys’ title, glanced – early in the homestretch -- at the looming threat of Husbands and Apocalypse on his outside and roused his mount for a strong run to the finish.

    The Apocalypse pressure – despite vigorous left-hand whipping by Husbands – inside the final furlong and a half was mild and good enough only for a clear second as his stablemate Making Headlines finished a further 4-1/2 lengths back in third.

    Regal Intension’s Triple Crown bid was scuppered with his fourth place finish and O’Brien’s target miss with his five-pronged entry in the seven-horse field was further compounded by an injury to his Oaks winner She’s So Spectacula.

    Owned by Chevan Maharaj, whose colt Supreme Soul captured the 2019 Triple Crown in Jamaica, She’s So Spectacula damaged a sesamoid, a career-ending injury.

    For trainer Mendez, Juice Man’s win was his seventh in this second leg of the Triple Crown series and one of his most remarkable having had just a couple of months with the colt. Juice man had never before Thursday gone a trip as long as the 9-1/2-furlong Midsummer with his two wins in Jamaica both five-furlong sprints. Mendez conditioned him quickly to an 8-3/4-furlong win in his Midsummer “prep” on July 6 at Santa Rosa Park, his first run at the Arima racetrack.

    “Going into his first race (in July) I tried to do some stamina work because he had never been beyond seven furlongs (in Jamaica) and we weren’t sure how much he would stay. He ran well and actually kicked on in that race,” Mendez said of his Santa Rosa debut win over Trovatore and Blue Navigator.

    “We got in a trouble-free preparation so he was ready,” Mendez explained.

  • Young Prescod pilots upset Barbados Derby winner Nzinga Young Prescod pilots upset Barbados Derby winner Nzinga

    The 20 year-old jockey N’Rico Prescod, in only his second Derby ride, piloted the 21-1 outsider Nzinga to a stunning win in the Massy United Insurance Barbados Derby on Thursday as fillies swept the top three spots in the BB$68,000 (US$34,000) Classic at the Garrison Savannah.

    Positioned off the lead for most of the 10-furlong trip, Nzinga swept to the front approaching the home turn and won by a length for trainer Raphael Greene, with 13-1 shot Naomi second and the 2-1 favourite Good Vibration third.

    “I am excited and I am glad I made my mother proud and my family proud,” Prescod said after his first Derby triumph.

    The 52-1 outsider Fantastic Frances was the pacesetter early and after a couple of furlongs enjoyed a five-length advantage at the head of the field with Defiant David (4-1), Marie Aurore (5-1) and Nzinga tracking.

    At the half mile, Fantastic France’s lead had shrunk as Marie Aurore, Nzinga and Midsummer Classic winner SeventeenmillionUS, the 5-2 second favourite, all pounced simultaneously for challenges.

    Prescod roused Nzinga at the two-furlong pole to surge past Fantastic Frances and Marie Aurore and the chestnut filly came off the final bend with a clear advantage.

    Nzinga drifted off the rail down the homestretch as Naomi edged ahead of Fantastic Frances and Marie Aurore to emerge as the main threat.

    Prescod switched his whip from left to right hand approaching the finish and safely held Naomi for the win, stopping the clock at two minutes 11.30 seconds.

    Brilliantly prepared by first-time Derby winning trainer Greene, who is also a part of the triumphant owners group Some Guys & A Gyal, Nzinga was securing her first top-three finish in the 2019 Classics after placing sixth in the Guineas and fifth in Midsummer.

    Greene, also breeder of the filly - by Janak out of the mare Mrs. B - believes she would have had better results in the earlier Classics if not for traffic problems as Prescod complained of being bounced around by other horses in the June 22 Midsummer.

    “All I prayed for was a clean trip and that is what happened,” Prescod said.

    “God answered my prayers and she came out on top and I am really proud of her, I love her,” added the former St Michael and Combermere (6th Form) student, who had three other winners on Thursday’s card.

    “N’Rico is a fantastic young rider, he is also very intelligent, has good hands and a good seat,” Greene said.

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