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Put Caymanas Park to Shark Tank test

Published:Wednesday | May 13, 2015 | 5:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

CAYMANAS PARK's woes worsened last Saturday when its fourth consecutive nine-race programme, another argument for another time, was called off after the running of the fifth race.

Jockeys refused to complete the day's card because of what they described as a dust cover, which impaired their vision during races - a direct threat to lives and limbs as they thunder around the track on 1,000-pound animals.

The entire country has been experiencing hot, windy and dry conditions for the last two to three weeks, resulting in wildfires in the St Andrew hills. Hence, the Caymanas Park racing surface, which has sea sand-like properties, as opposed to dirt, becomes compromised in such conditions.

Constant pounding further granulates the sand, making the racetrack a virtual dust bowl if not watered sufficiently, which has turned out to be Caymanas Track Limited's (CTL) problem for the last week or two.

CTL has a malfunctioning water pump, porous metal-piping system, in addition to wells that are not maintained, culminating in an inadequate turnover time for trucks to keep the racetrack wet during this critical period.

Chief Executive Officer Cedric Stewart has said it will take $9 million to rehabilitate a particular well. Parts for the pump have been ordered and should be in the island soon. Rehabilitation of the well, he said, will be done under financing worked out with Jamaica Wells.

The big question, though, is why did CTL await a calamity before it set about ordering parts for its malfunctioning water pump? Why hadn't the horse-racing promoting company sought to maintain or rehabilitate its wells?

The answer is simple. CTL is broke. The promoting company hardly earns enough to pay purses more so maintain its plant at an acceptable standard.

That leads to another question. If the Government of Jamaica owns and operates CTL at a loss, taxes unpaid and all, how in the world would divestment to a private entity, which will be required to pay taxes, sustain profitability?

hankering on divestment

Venture capitalist Kevin O'Leary of American reality television series, 'Shark Tank', would have a field day should anybody dare venture into the 'Tank', seeking financing for Caymanas Park, without gua-rantees outlining a total trans-formation of its operations and business model.

Billionaire Dallas Mavericks' owner, Mark Cuban, the grinning 'Shark' two seats to O'Leary's right, would have bitten a huge chunk out of anybody's backside trying to sell him Caymanas Park.

The other Sharks, Daymond John, Lori Greiner, Barbara Corcoran and Robert Herjavec, would have been out of a Caymanas deal faster than you could say 'Shark Tank'.

For those hankering on divestment, catch a 'Shark Tank' episode on ABC, Fridays at 8 p.m., 7 Central, with reruns throughout the week on CNBC. Put CTL to the 'Shark Tank' test before trumpeting divestment as local racing's road to Damascus.

AINSLEY WALTERS

ainsley.walters