Remembering 60 years of horse racing at Caymanas Park
The first race at Caymanas Park was run on August 22, 1959.
Sixty years on, after many ups and downs, the horse racing industry is still going at the Park.
To commemorate this historic milestone, a special anniversary race day is taking place tomorrow, along with a back-to-school treat and entertainment.
The Supreme Racing Guide interviewed several professionals in the sport about their memories and cherished moments.
Adin Williams – Racehorse trainer
I am a country boy who came into racing in 1966. I worked with Owen Silvera and then I went to grass bush and didn’t like it, so I stayed at the stables and from there I learned to muck stalls, hold horses and riding as well. I became a nice exercise rider wanting to become a jockey but I grew a little bit too big and as a result, I started to groom horses. The first horse that I groomed and won with was Julie Andrews. I went to Dennis Sasso after Silvera died then after Sasso migrated, I went to Howard McKenzie and won with horses like Swinging Steps and King’s Ransom. Then I went to America and worked with Bobby Hale and Michael Lee and won a few nice races. Jockey Jerry Bailey won the first race for me in the United States as a groom at Gulfstream Park in 1978. Then I came back to Jamaica and started to work with Philip Feanny and from there I groomed a lot of nice horses for him like Prince Consort, Orient Express and others and I became his assistant. My best memorable moment is when I went on to train horses for myself. I trained Nimrod and won my first Classic race, the second year I trained and my other Classic victories came in the third year when Mr Lover Lover won the Derby in Jamaica and Trinidad. Winning the Jamaica Derby was excellent but winning the Derby in Trinidad was extra special. Before I went away to Trinidad and won their Derby in 1997, no one went aboard and won a race for Jamaica. My teacher (Philip Feanny) was present to see me defeat the other horses in Trinidad and and that made it ultra-special. That was the highest moment in my career as the Jamaican National Flag was flying high over my head and the National Anthem was playing. It was truly a memorable moment for me and Jamaica.
Shane Ellis – Racehorse jockey
I have been in racing for the past 23 years from 1996 as a professional jockey and from then until now racing itself has improved. It was Caymanas Track Limited and now it is Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited and they have improved, and I am hoping that this 60th-anniversary will make racing better. One of my most memorable moments was when I finished third in the Jamaica Derby and got first place. I have other moments like with Saint Cecilia when I won 15 Grade One races with her carrying on occasions 60.5 kgs (133 lb) and that was very good. There was also the Triple Crown victory with Supreme Soul recently.
Patrick Fong – Racehorse trainer
My introduction to racing was when I was 14-years-old. I ran away from “country” in Savanna-la-mar, Westmoreland and came straight into the sport. I got into riding and was supposed to ride on a Wednesday but on the Sunday morning before, I got a bad drop which took me out of racing for a while and went I came back I was too big, so my riding career was no more. After that, I became a groom for a while with Wayne DaCosta and looked after one of the top horses in the country in Mr D and then I launched out to become groom president and from groom president, I was made a director for Caymanas Track Limited and Racing Promotions Limited. Then I became a trainer, which was a memorable moment for me. The first day I started as a trainer, I saddled a double as that was one of the highlights in racing for me. My next highlight was Penelope when I won the Betting, Gaming & Lotteries Stakes Trophy over 7 furlongs on Diamond Mile Day in 2016. Penelope came from nowhere to win by a neck that day. I also won the Cash Pot “Only One For Me” Trophy with Top Shelf. I have some owners that stayed with me through the time, like in the earlier days it was Laurence Heffes and Derrick Gayle and a few more. Then Superkids came along and they have my backbone. I have seen racing go through many changes, some for the better and some for the worse but mostly for the better. SVREL are making some improvements but I think that it has been taking too long.
Rudolph Hardial – Racehorse trainer
For over 40 years, I have been at Caymanas Park. I came here to become a jockey but I put on a lot of weight and that ended that dream. I love the sport and so I stayed on and groomed horses for 15 years until the late Alvin Martin took out an assistant trainer’s licence for me. He told me that I don’t look like a groom, I look like a trainer and he died a year after that and Joseph Thomas took over from him and then I got my trainer’s licence in 1996. Racing is nicer now to me than back then. I started well as a trainer then I took a fall but I am picking up now. My most memorable moment was when I took a triple on the same race day. When I took the triple, I had like 20 horses under my care but I used to operate at the community of Newlands before they moved me and gave me stables on the Caymanas compound. The horses were Magallan, Doo-Dah Day and Lady Ash and that was June 1998.
Mark Collins – Racehorse groom/swimmer
I started my career as a groom around 1998 but I was involved in the sport from a younger age as I wanted to become a jockey but that didn’t work out. I then began to swim horses with Patrick Fong before he became a trainer and that path led me to the grooming of horses which I like a lot. My first winner was with a horse named French Bill. Allen Maragh was the jockey and he rode a wonderful race that day going 5-furlong (1,000m) straight, I was working at Richard Azan stables at that time. I was very happy with my first win knowing that my hard work paid off. During my time at the racetrack, my most memorable moment came last year November when I received an award for my hardwork and service for swimming horses. That day I was so happy as I got recognition for the work I put in horse racing. I won quite a few Grade One races with Neftenga, who was a brilliant horse, he was very consistent and he would give you his best at all times. I also want to you to mention the Diamond Mile as since its inception in 2015, racing has somewhat being put on the map again. The Diamond Mile brought back attention to the racing industry.
Even though I got my groom licence in 2010, I was involved in the sport from a very tender age as my father Linford Marshall is also a groom. From I was a boy, I started visiting the track and I fell in love with the sport. I guess the racing is in the blood as I am very attached to the sport. For the sport and the racing industry to be celebrating their 60th anniversary, I think it is a great accomplishment for them and me to still be here to celebrate this milestone with the sport I love. As for my grooming career, I think it has been great as I love what I am doing and will continue as long as I can. My first winner was War Hero ridden by Omar Walker going over 7 ½ furlongs (1,500m). That was a magical and emotional moment for me as I was completely taken over by joy and happiness at once.
Stanley Findlay-Racehorse trainer
Caymanas Park is a very wonderful place and all my life I have been in the sport. I was born in St Elizabeth and I used to ride match races down there. I rode at a place named Junction, I rode at Newmarket and that was great. I went to Old Harbour with Alty McKenzie, David McKenzie’s father, a very nice gentleman and he taught me everything. After moving up and down, I eventually ended up at Caymanas Park. It was like about when I was 15-years-old or so and the rest is history. Without doubt, winning the 1987 Jamaica 2000 Guineas with the brilliant Monday Morning was the highlight of my career. It was a wonderful feeling when I won the 2,000 Guineas. I was only sorry that I didn’t win the two legs of the Guineas – the 1000 and the 2000 as my other horse Nadia lost the 1000 Guineas by a whisker. Nadia lost to Silent Account ridden by Hubert Bartley for trainer Ren Gonsalves. Everton Miller rode my two horses on the day and I told him exactly how to ride them, but the jockey gave me an indifferent ride on Nadia.
Fabian White – Racehorse groom/president of the Groom’s Association of Jamaica
Celebrating 60th years of racing at Caymanas Park is a great accomplishment for all in the industry and you can’t leave out the punters as they have been supporting racing over the years. I was born in 1959, so this milestone is a great accomplishment for me as well. I think that the racing product is getting better; it needs a lot more to go but with these new people that took over, SVREL, we are looking forward to a lot from them. I am optimistic and I feel and think that SVREL are going to do something, I still have hope in them. The most memorable moment in my career was with Mento Maid when I won the Superstakes in 1979. Fifteen colts and geldings against one filly that was my most memorable moment in racing so far. I never slept that night after winning that race. I mean, I was the “outer” in the race, 15 colts and geldings against one filly, it was historical for me. I will always remember that day.
CLOVIS METCALFE – CHAIRMAN JRC, BGLC
There have been some great moments at Caymanas Park over the last 60 years. From a personal point of view, my most memorable moment was when Orient Express ridden by Allen Maragh won the Gold Cup which at the time was hailed as the ultimate handicap race. A close friend and I were the co-owners of Orient Express. In general, there are two other moments which have stayed with me. The first was when legendary jockey Lester Piggott rode at Caymanas Park. On the day, Piggott rode IOU, a horse trained by Eileen Cliggott carrying 140 lbs. Now, IOU could barely get five furlongs but with Piggott aboard running six furlongs, and with the massive weight, the great man was able to get everything out of IOU to get the victory. Naturally, the rafters at Caymanas Park almost came down as racing fans celebrated widely. The other moment was the accomplishment of Monte’s Stitch winning the Gold Cup with 140 lbs with a devastating late surge with jockey Glenford Walker in the saddle. What made Monte’s Stitch run even more electrifying was that the commentator on the day did not pick him up until he went by the post.