Jamaica Derby

Jamaica Derby (1)

 Veteran jockey Shane Ellis spectacularly captured his sixth Jamaica Derby on Saturday, rallying the St Leger winner Calculus to a narrow come-from-behind win in the JA$7.5 Million (US$48,900) Classic at Caymanas Park.

The 3-5 favourite Calculus looked beaten as the front runners quickened away from him coming off the final turn, but Ellis strikingly drove Chevan Maharaj’s colt back into contention and scored by a neck for trainer Gary Subratie’s first Derby triumph.

“It was almost a miracle that he got back to the horses there to win this race,” Trinidad and Tobago’s Maharaj said in the winners’ enclosure.

Calculus clocked two minutes 37 and 4/5ths of a second in the 12-furlong trip for the win over the 6-1 bet Billy Whizz. The 2-1 second favourite Further and Beyond was another length and a half back in third.

The 41-1 outsider Iannai Links led the field for the first three furlongs, tracked by a cluster of horses including Calculus on the rail, 30-1 bet Regal and Royal, Billy Whizz and the stablemates Santorini (20-1), and Further and Beyond.

After opening splits of 24.2 and 48.4, a tightly bunched half of the field cruised past the midway point in the race at a six-furlong split of 1:16 and 4/5ths with Further and Beyond, the 2020 Champion two-year-old, edging into the lead ahead of Iannai Links, Calculus, Billy Whizz and a smooth moving 4-1 shot Big Jule in fifth within two lengths of the lead. Santorini and Regal and Royal were also within striking distance as the pace quickened.

Leaving the three-furlong marker, reigning co-champion jockey Dane Nelson whipped up Further and Beyond and shot into a clear lead while Big Jule went in chase. Billy Whizz also made a sharp move toward the lead and the three appeared to have the seemingly one-paced Calculus beaten.

Early in the homestretch, Big Jule failed to quicken and Panama-born jockey Dick Cardenas presented Billy Whizz with a surging outside challenge approaching the eighth pole that sliced into Further and Beyond’s lead. But Ellis – shifting from the inside rail -- suddenly flipped Calculus’s initial mild recovery into a jetting move between the new leader Billy Whizz and Nelson’s tiring colt. A quick change from left to right hand whipping by Ellis finished the job as Calculus swept through a tight space for the win.

“Dick was there on my outside, I had to shake my horse and let him know that the job is not done. I had to bustle my way through and show them that ‘big man a big man,” a smiling Ellis said after adding to previous Derby wins he had with Awesome Power (2011), Typewriter (2012), Relampago (2014), Orpheus (2016) and Supreme Soul two years ago.

Calculus only arrived in Subratie’s barn two months ago from champion trainer Anthony Nunes’s stables after Maharaj purchased the colt from another T&T owner Shivam Maharaj, and the season’s leading trainer in wins praised Ellis’s job in the saddle.

“The passage was getting tight but Shane did his job and that’s what we wanted,” said Subratie, whose 9-5 Derby favourite last year Wow Wow was beaten into sixth position while his other two entries Nipster and Another Affair narrowly lost in second and third to upset winner King Arthur.

Maharaj, who had a T&T Derby win in 2017 with the Jamaica-bred filly Leading Lady, also acclaimed Ellis’s ride that landed the 47-year-old jockey his 22nd Classic triumph.

“At the top of the lane, honestly I thought he was beaten I could not imagine that Shane was able to get some extra out of him to get back to the horses in front. All credit to him for a fantastic ride” said Maharaj, who was winning his second Jamaica Derby in three years, having scored with Triple Crown winner Supreme Soul in 2019.

In the co-feature, Jamaica Oaks, Fillies Guineas winner She’s a Wonder galloped to a predictable win in the JA$3.75 Million (US$24,460) event to give 21-year-old jockey Reyan Lewis and trainer Ian Parsard their first win in the 10-furlong Classic.

She’s a Wonder scored by three lengths as the 1-5 favourite ahead of Amy the Butcher (5-1) and clocked 2:13.3/5ths for her sixth win in 12 lifetime starts.

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