Thu | Nov 26, 2020

Revised racing calendar coming

Published:Sunday | March 29, 2020 | 12:42 AMRobert Bailey - Sunday Gleaner Writer
HARRY’S TRAIN (right), with Dane Dawkins aboard, wins the ninth race at Caymanas Park on Saturday, March 21.
FILE HARRY’S TRAIN (right), with Dane Dawkins aboard, wins the ninth race at Caymanas Park on Saturday, March 21.

With local horse racing now on an indefinite shutdown due mainly to the coronavirus pandemic, Chairman of Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL) Solomon Sharpe says the racing calendar will have to be revised.

Last Sunday should have featured two Guineas trials, the Thornbird Stakes for three-year-old fillies and the Prince Consort Stakes for colts and geldings. Both races were not run as the promoters shut down racing at the track at midnight on March 21. Those two races should have been warm-up runs for the 1000 and 2000 Guineas races, which were scheduled for the Easter weekend.

Sharpe says the Guineas races will be postponed.

“Yes … because right now we are just trying to keep everybody safe,” said Sharpe. “The most important thing for us right now is to keep all of our key stakeholders at the track, off the track and everywhere safe.”

“We don’t want our punters going into any crowded spaces. We don’t want our horseman or anybody being unduly exposed because we are trying to keep the plant and everybody as safe as possible,” he added.

Jamaica has seen 32 confirmed cases of the deadly virus. One person has died. He underlined that the entire racing calendar would now have to be adjusted as the country tries to contain the spread of the virus.

In giving reasons why the Guineas races could not be run at the scheduled dates, Sharpe said: “There are lead-up races to these Classic races, and if you look at what is going on globally, the Kentucky Derby is rescheduled, and there are a lot of other things that are rescheduled.”

“The whole racing calendar will have to be reorganised, but this will not just be a decision made by only the promoters,” said Sharpe.

“We will meet with other key stakeholders because I think we have developed a great relationship in the last few weeks in fighting the whole situation. We will meet with them as soon as we get the best possible opportunity,” he said.

Sharpe noted that the postponement of racing at Caymanas Park has affected the industry tremendously but said “… horsemen are tough, and they are resilient, and they are pretty much ready to race whenever the opportunity presents itself.”

“I think the most important thing right now is preservation of life of the human beings that participate in our wonderful sport and horses at the track who depend on these racing professionals to look after them, and so that is where our main focus is right now,” he said.