KINGSTON, Jamaica – After a thrilling stretch duel between two grey horses, He’s Really Ok, on the outside, nipped favourite and 2000 Guineas winner Bruceontheloose on the wire to win the 89th running of the Jamaica Derby, at Caymanas Park on June 13, 2009.
He’s Really Ok, the Lotto Classic winner the same year, won the 12 furlong (2,400m) event by a short head to give owner Patrick Smellie, trainer Frederick Watson and jockey Paul Francis their first and, to date, only victory in the Jamaica Derby.
It was a real treat for the bumper crowd at the park that day as they witnessed what was surely the closest and most exciting Jamaica Derby race in the history of the blue riband event at Caymanas Park.
My Space led the 89th renewal passing the stands for the first time and around the clubhouse turn, but as soon as the field hit the main track, Bruceontheloose went in chase of the leader with He’s Really Ok settled behind in third spot. Bruceontheloose took over at the half-mile (800m), but He’s Really Ok immediately went in chase, setting the stage for the stretch tussle which the latter won.
Now plying his trade in racing as a conditioner, Smellie recalled the magical moment which sent him over the moon.
“That 2009 Derby was the closest Derby in the history of Jamaica. We won by a short head and no other Derby race has ever been close like that. It was a very exciting Derby and you know we beat the best in the land then in Winston Griffiths and Philip Feanny. I think that the crowd that day thoroughly enjoyed it and I am hoping that this Derby will be spectacular and very exciting nonetheless,” Smellie offered.
Smellie said that it was a wonderful performance from his horse and he hopes one day he can relive that moment again.
“It was a wonderful performance. I actually thought that we would have won by two or three lengths, but Mr Feanny and Mr Griffiths had different ideas. It was a pity that one of those two horses had to lose that day, both gladiators, it was a wonderful race. At that time it was ecstatic. I mean, I was over the moon; it was wonderful and I am hoping that I can get another horse that can emulate that feat. Every trainer’s dream is to win the Derby and it was really wonderful,” Smellie said.