Race meet scheduled for tomorrow will not go ahead due to COVID-19 concernsTuesday, August 31, 2021
BY RUDDY ALLEN
The Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC), the regulatory arm of horse racing in Jamaica, has cancelled the nine-race card scheduled for Caymanas Park tomorrow, September 1, due to concerns regarding COVID-19.
In a letter to the promoting company Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL) advising of the cancellation, the JRC stated that the decision to cancel was based on recent reported positive cases of the COVID-19 virus involving two team members of SVREL.
The JRC further indicated that because interaction took place between the two individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 and members of the JRC staff, the commission was left with no choice but to quarantine involved staffers from the general population. This publication understands the JRC staff members who made contact with the positive cases went into isolation from last Saturday evening.
“Based on our initial contact tracing listing, this is to advise that we will be quarantining all exposed staff from the general population until they are cleared with a negative COVID-19 test result. We are now in the process of having our staff tested for COVID-19 as well as the deep cleaning/sanitising of our office at the track. However, this can only begin on Wednesday, September 1, 2021, due to the “No-Movement/Lockdown” until 5:00 am, Wednesday, September 1, 2021. In light of these unfortunate chain of events, this is to advise that the race meeting of Wednesday, September 1, 2021 is to be cancelled. The Commission is prepared to approve a new date for the race meet, as soon as the health of our staff is cleared,” the JRC letter stated.
The letter went on to say: “As is the customary, we implore you and your team members to put the health and safety of all parties at the forefront, as we seek to keep the industry alive and well for the long term.”
In its response through a press release SVREL stated: “Supreme Ventures Racing & Entertainment Ltd (SVREL) was today (August 30) advised that the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC) has cancelled the race day scheduled for Wednesday, September 1, 2021 at Caymanas Park. The activity was cancelled to facilitate the finalization of JRC employee COVID-19 protocol, in response to the return of positive COVID-19 results from two members of staff of SVREL. The related offices have been professionally sanitized as a precaution to ensure the safety of the Caymanas community and its patrons. Contact tracing will also be carried out. The date for the reschedule meet will be confirmed as soon as it is approved by the JRC.”
Responding to the news of the cancellation, president of the Jockeys' Guild Robert Halledeen said the move to cancel was unfortunate for members of the guild, but is nevertheless one which must be taken within the context of what is going on in the country as it pertains to the increase in COVID-19 cases.
“I just [yesterday afternoon] got the news about the cancellation of the race meet on Wednesday, so without knowing all the details I cannot say much.
“But it is an unfortunate situation for us jockeys as this is our job, our primary source of income' Yet we must understand what is happening with COVID-19 in Jamaica and as such, our consideration is for the health of all concerned. We want all with COVID-19 to get better as quickly as possible to enable a quick restart of racing.
“Plus, it is my view, my personal view, that the Government should consider putting up a vaccination centre at the race track. Caymanas Park big, and this vaccination centre would not only be for racing people but for others in places like Gregory Park, Independence City and other places near to the track,” Halledeen said.
President of the United Racehorse Trainers Association of Jamaica Ryan Darby, in his comments regarding the cancellation, said while the decision was rushed, it can be understood, given the state of affairs in relation to COVID-19 in the country.
“A lot of effort, which includes time and resources, has been put in place for tomorrow's race meet, but with the situation as it is we can certainly understanding why the cancellation.
“As we move forward, we the trainers ask for continuous dialogue from all parties concerned so our members can be briefed on a timely basis. Now that there is a cancellation, the hope is for all affected by COVID-19 to get back in good health as we cannot take another lockdown of horse racing,” Darby said.