The groom behind Atomica
Errol Thomas wins first Derby, while trainer Gary Subratie says filly good and proper
A delighted Gary Subratie (right) with his second Derby winner Atomica. At left is the owner of the filly Don Webhy. Dane Dawkins is the jockey. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

While the spotlight was on the talented filly Atomica after she blazed the trail to win the 102nd running of the Jamaica Derby Classic on Saturday, August 6, 2022, the man behind this spirited chestnut filly is a quiet, humble individual by the name of Errol Thomas. Thomas is the groom of Atomica.

Trained by Gary Subratie and ridden by Dane Dawkins, Atomica easily brushed aside rivals to win the native-bred three-year-old Futurity race by 9 ¼ lengths. She completed 12 furlongs (2,400m) in 2:35.2, beating Brinks and Blue Vinyl to take the final jewel in the Triple Crown.

Thomas, who was still basking in the Derby glory, said that it was a dream come true for him to win the race that everyone wants to win.

"I am in racing for about 40 years now and this is my first Derby win. I feel very good about myself knowing that I have accomplished something great. I had Wow Wow in the Derby before, but he never won and so for Atomica to make one of my dreams come true, I am so happy and grateful. She is the best horse that I have groomed so far in my career.

"It is everybody's dream to one day win a Jamaica Derby and so it was an amazing feeling for me. I have Atomica now, she is a wonderful horse and she is going places. She is going up to the top level as she can do more than what people think; she is a super horse.

"Special big up and thanks to my trainer [Gary Subratie] for the trust he had in me to give this wonderful horse to look after. To also the owner and everyone at the stables as they are behind this horse 110 per cent," the former Groom's Association president said.

After Atomica's loss to Blue Vinyl in the Jamaica St Leger last month, Thomas said there wasn't any doubt that his charge would get revenge.

"I was always confident. Despite that loss in the St Leger, I knew that she was going to turn the tables. She got a lot of bouncing around in the race, from the starting gates where the horse that Shane Ellis was aboard bumped into her, [and] going into the round mile she was crowded again and she was able to go through to the lead on her bridle down the backstretch.

"But the effort took its toll and she had to back up in the straight as she had done wonders early in the race. With a free running trip this time, I knew that they won't get back to her. The performance was just amazing.

"She is better than before. Atomica is a very nice horse to groom, only that she kicks because she got shaper. I love her, I love Atomica," Thomas said.

Subratie said that, while Atomica came out of the race in good order, there is no immediate plan for the remainder of the racing season.

"Atomica came out of the Jamaica Derby in excellent condition. She ate out well, she is good, and she is happy. The performance was excellent, couldn't beat that performance. I don't have a plan at this time. I will go through it with the owner and decide where we are going to run her next, but I am going to give her a little break and bring her back," Subratie told The Supreme Racing Guide.

Groom Errol Thomas at home with his pride and joy Atomica two days after the filly won the Jamaica Derby on Saturday, August 6, 2022, at Caymanas Park. (Photo: Ruddy Allen)
BY RUDDY ALLEN Observer staff reporter

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