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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