The wright View | The benefits of proper promotion at Caymanas Park
The 96th running of the Cal's Jamaica Derby, run for the Sir John Mordecai Trophy, was completed last Saturday at Caymanas Park.
What a day it was!
Thirteen races were on offer, with the winner of every race receiving a trophy and sponsors' incentives. The build-up to the marquee event was excellently done by the sponsors, led by philanthropic owner and CEO of Cal's Manufacturing Carlton Watson.
This racehorse owner and member of the executive of the Jamaica Racehorses Owners Association has put his money where his heart and mouth are by not only sponsoring races at the Park, but also giving his horses to different trainers, some in the top 10 of the trainers championship race, but also allowing young and not so young, but trying trainers, to get an opportunity to showcase their skills by conditioning "good" horses to the success that their talents deserve.
The promos for the day were well received by radio and television audiences and the pre-Derby Friday morning breakfast must become a staple of future pre-Derby events.
The race day itself saw young and old fans coming to the Park, new fans, attracted by the fantastic build-up to the day and old diehard fans who came back to the track to see if the racing that they knew (and watched disappear) through the years was coming back, what with the talk of divestment and new ownership of the Park, promised by the political administration with a handover deadline of July 31, 2016.
As for the fans on Saturday, they got excitement. The 13 races were won by 12 different jockeys (champion jockey Shane Ellis being the only one to win two races) and 12 different trainers (Paul Smith being the only trainer to win two races).
The first race was won by the 1-5 favourite, while the winner of the eighth race returned odds of 53-1, ensuring that the form backers won, as well as those who just loved the colours that the jockey wore also were winners. One would, therefore, expect that the promoting company would see to it that everything was in place to ensure that the bumper crowd expected would be well fed and watered and that the races would go off on time with very little possibility of 'oops' becoming the response to questions regarding peculiarities during the day.
LACK OF FORESIGHT
I was told that there was a paucity of water in the stands, and when the feature race was about to start, patrons were regaled with the view of a frantic worker trying to put up the 'dummy rail' at the two-furlong part of the track. This resulted in a delay to the start of the feature race. Foresight would have ensured that the 'dummy rail' was of a non-collapsible standard.
Then to add insult to injury, the winner of the race, Future King, part owned by Jeffery Mordecai, the son of Sir John Mordecai (after whom the trophy is named), was in the ring with family and dignitaries for what seemed an eternity (at least 15 minutes) before the news came that the first two horses past the post were disqualified and placings reversed.
The 'correctness' of the decision will be the grist of discussion among racing aficionados for months to come. But if racing is to move forward, these decisions cannot take such a long time to be announced. With a handle of $60 million wagered on the day, the promoters may be tempted to claim success, but racing fans can't wait for the promised divestment and a proper promotion of the 'Sport of Kings'.