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Trainer Subratie eyes Derby glory
Gary Subratie has never had it so good, and come tomorrow at Caymanas Park the second-generation trainer could realise his lifelong dream by winning the Cal's Jamaica Derby.
He saddles ante-post favourite BIG MAN BOYU for the 91st running of the premier classic and feels confident that the classy colt can deliver the goods in a maximum field of 16 native bred three-year-olds.
To say that Subratie is enjoying a marvellous season would be an understatement.
In a rare training feat, he saddled the filly NIPHAL and BIG MAN BOYU to win the April 2 running of the 1000 and 2000 Guineas, respectively, assuming the lead from reigning champion Wayne DaCosta in the process. And he only relinquished it last Saturday after DaCosta swept the first three places in the feature Hall of Fame Stakes Trophy won by SIR VON.
Many believe Subratie has a realistic shot at the trainers' title which has been the sole possession of DaCosta for the past six years. But according to the trainer, a lot will hinge on tomorrow's Derby.
Victory for BIG MAN BOYU in the $9-million race would surely see him shooting clear of DaCosta once again, then it would be on to the St Leger for a shot at the Triple Crown, a feat achieved by the Richard Azan-trained MARK MY WORD last year.
Deep down, Subratie believes that DaCosta has too many horses to lose the championship. He recalled that in a recent interview DaCosta said: "I have the numbers, he doesn't."
But the championship aside, Subratie, with 25 wins so far and just over $16 million in stakes to be a close second in the standings, is really enjoying the time of his life - thanks to BIG MAN BOYU, NIPHAL, TREASURE GIRL, UNCLE KEN, BURST OF ENERGY, and last, but by no means least, the classy American filly RONRON, who is currently the top-rated horse in the country. Owned by Kenval Wallace, RONRON has won nine of her last 10 races at the highest level.
A complete horseman, Subratie, who is a former apprentice jockey, farm manager and equestrian rider, obtained his licence in Miami in 1998 and chose to train in Jamaica. He has vast experience with horses both in the United States and England. So it was only a matter of time before he made it to the top rung of his profession.
Uncle ken sidelined
About the Derby, Subratie, son of retired trainer Errol Subratie, had this to say: "Originally, UNCLE KEN was my Derby horse, but he has been sidelined by a leg injury and is out of training. BIG MAN BOYU, on the other hand, has come on by leaps and bounds since he was fitted with the tongue tie for the 2000 Guineas and is now the big man in town.
"I was pleased with his performance in that open allowance race on May 14 and that was indeed the ideal prep for the Derby. He has impressed me in his preparation, and having beaten the best three-year-old colts in the Guineas, I expect him to take it a step further.
"He should have no problems with the distance and although ERASMO stayed on strongly to win the Governor's Cup and could be my biggest danger over the longer distance, BIG MAN BOYU has really looked improved in his preparation and will prove hard to beat, barring unforeseen circumstances," said Subratie.
BIG MAN will be ridden by Trinidad and Tobago-based Panamanian jockey Nobel Abrego for Trinidadian owner Baskaran Bassawh.
To date, Subratie has saddled close to 300 winners, including his first four-timer (Romez, Ronron, Niphal, Uncle Ken) on Saturday, March 12.