SVREL backs down on breeders' bonus
Breeders of horses yesterday let out a collective sigh of relief when informed by The Gleaner that horse racing promoting company Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL) would not include any removal of breeders' bonus in its April 2018-March 2019 programme submitted to the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC).
SVREL's executive chairman, Michael Bernard, told The Gleaner that the position was taken following a meeting with Clovis Metcalfe, chairman of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC).
"SVREL will not be submitting a programme of races and purses for April 2018 to March 2019, which includes any changes to breeders' bonus," said Bernard, who had stoked the wrath of breeders, particularly Howard Hamilton, president of the Thoroughbred, Owners and Breeders Association, by initially informing the body that breeders' bonus would have been discontinued in some categories of races, starting February 1.
"We have had discussions with the BGLC, and we are looking at other ways and means to achieve our objectives," Bernard said yesterday afternoon.
However, the SVREL chairman, who had targeted saving the new racing promoter $20 million with the initiative, after pointing to a heavy loss in its first year of operation at Caymanas Park, added that the company remained adamant that it could not continue to pay breeders bonuses as existed under Caymanas Track Limited, a government-run entity from which it took over last year when the racetrack was divested.
"The promoter maintains that it is not in a position to continue to make these payments from its resources, and other ways will have to be found to continue to support these payments," he said.
"I am fully in support of incentives to breeders, but the promoter cannot afford it, and it is not to be paid by the promoter. Other ways will have to be found," Bernard said, suggesting that the resources to pay breeders could be otherwise funded.
'NO MONEY FROM US'
However, Metcalfe, who is also acting chairman of the JRC, shot down The Gleaner's enquiries as to whether that body or the BGLC had reached an agreement with SVREL to fund breeders' bonuses.
"No, no money is coming from us," Metcalfe said. "Nothing is coming from either JRC or BGLC to breach that shortfall. However, we're not the only entity that can lend assistance to the industry," he said in what could be a hint that the Ministry of Finance might soon be dragged into the imbroglio.
Reacting to the news, 14-time champion trainer Philip Feanny, who, along with Metcalfe and Hamilton, are partners in the island's biggest stud farm, HAM Stables Limited, was expectedly relieved.
"Good sense prevailed. How can you cut a breeder's incentive when you're trying to encourage breeders to breed more horses?" he asked.
Breeders are paid nine per cent of the total purse of any race run at Caymanas Park.