Racing Secretary Denzil Miller (left) and trainer Gary Subratie
700 winners for trainer Gary Subratie

Second-generation trainer Gary Subratie, who moved to Jamaica in 1998 after earning his licence in Florida and started his first horse at the Calder racetrack in 1997, has steadily grown in stature as one of the country's top conditioners and the recent accomplishment of saddling 700 winners is a clear demonstration of his progress.

Subratie reached the milestone on Saturday, January 8, when he won a natural hat-trick of races. After winning the first event with 21-1 shot T Brady (Christopher Mamdeen), he was successful in the second and third events with Blood Fire (Andre Powell) and Itiz What Itiz (Dane Dawkins) respectively.

The achievement of saddling 700 winners had a profound effect on Subratie, son of former trainer Errol “Big Sub” Subratie.

“It is very emotional for me because it's a milestone that I never thought I would get to when I started training because it was very tough. It has been years of toil,” said Subratie, whose first winner on Jamaican soil was Royal Invitation.

“I am very grateful and appreciative as I reflect on all the people who have contributed to this achievement. It is something that I never knew I would get so emotional about it, but it is an achievement that is well worth celebrating,” he added.

Though awestruck at the magnitude of the achievement, Subratie was reluctant to take all the credit for his success. Instead, he deflected it to those who work with him at the barn, as well as family members.

“You can tell by the emotions that this is something I have worked really hard for, and so this milestone means a lot to me. I run the ship and call the shots, but I couldn't do it without the necessary support, and so I am grateful for the support of my family, first and foremost, and for all the work done by the grooms, my wonderful owners, all the great horses and everyone else who made this possible,” Subratie, who placed third in the trainers' championships last year told this publication.

The 700 milestone also saw Subratie moving up from 11th to ninth on the all-time leading trainers list in terms of wins and, by all indication, he will go higher as he now targets 800 winners.

Wayne DaCosta (2,290), Phillip Feanny (2,060), Anthony Nunes (1,189), Allan Williams (1,120), Kenneth Mattis (1,070), Eileen Cliggott (976), Richard Todd (810), and Aston Commock (709) are those currently ahead of him.

“I would love to get to 800, that would make it even nicer and that is in fact the target right now. But only a few trainers in Jamaica's history got to 700, and so that is something to relish at the moment and just take it one day at a time as we look ahead,” the conditioner noted.

Subratie's dream start to the day came in the first event, courtesy of 21-1 shot T Brady, who upset more fancied rivals by one-and-a-quarter lengths in a four-year-old and up Restricted Allowance contest over seven furlongs (1,400metres).

The colt completed the journey in 1:26.1, with Classical Orb (Robert Halledeen) and Ianzha Links (Jerome Innis) taking the minor placing.

In the second event, Blood Fire lashed rivals in a claiming event by seven-and-a-half lengths, clocking 1:34.3 for seven-and-a-half furlong (1,500m). Royal Vibes (Paul Francis) and Uncle Vinnie (Dane Nelson) were second and third, respectively.

The natural hat-trick was completed when Itiz What Itiz came from off the pace in a Maiden Special Weight call over seven furlong to win by one-and-a-half lengths in a flat 1:30.0.

“The performances by the three winners were really good, but I was a bit disappointed with KD Rocket, even though he doesn't run as well going round the bend as he does over the straight, and Purple Wayne broke down after the race. I don't know what happened there, but I was expecting a little better from both, and Heavenly Glitter was outrun by Positive ID,” Subratie shared as he reflected on his charges performance on the day.

Looking ahead to the remainder of the season, Subratie shied away from sharing his ambitions about the trainers' championship, but firmly declared his intentions for the Classic season.

“This year I have a couple decent three-year-olds coming along nicely, so I am really looking at some of the Classic races to see if I can take even one out of the bunch of them and just try and build back the stable to what it was,” he noted.

“I got a little weak in the last part of last year, but that's because of the quality horses, so we just have to improve on the horses and we will eventually be competitive again. I am just taking it one day at a time, keeping the work going and then we will see what happens,” Subratie ended.

Blood Fire — winner number 699 for Gary Subratie
Trainer Gary Subratie (left) with his 700th winner Itiz What Itiz. The jockey is Dane Dawkins.
T Brady - winner number 698 for Gary Subratie (Photos: Garfield Robinson)
BY SHERDON COWAN Observer staff reporter cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

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