Thu | Jan 21, 2021

Mystery illness will not stop today’s racing - Bartlett: There are over 1,100 horses on the track … I have not come across 50 that are affected.

Published:Wednesday | February 26, 2020 | 12:00 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Chairman of SVREL, Solomon Sharpe
Dr St Aubyn Bartlett
SWEET DESTINY (Javaniel Patterson) wins last Saturday’s fifth race at Caymanas Park.

A mystery illness which was detected at Caymanas Park yesterday will not force the postponement of today’s 11-race Ash Wednesday card at The Caymanas Park.

The holiday meet will go ahead as planned according to senior Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC) veterinarian Dr St Aubyn Bartlett and chairman of Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), Solomon Sharpe.

Bartlett confirmed there were horses not taking feed, while some were down with fever.

“There are a few horses that are spiking temperature. We are not sure what is the cause but one thing that is common is that they will eat grass, they will eat hay and drink water but they are not into the feed, the pellet feed that is given to them, they smell it and say no.

“We need more testing and examination of the horses. We are not sure if it is the feed. Some (horses) are having temperature but for the most part the temperatures are not extremely high, only a few horses,” he said.

Bartlett, who said he went around examining the animals from stable to stable, pointed out that the horses depend on pellet feed (a concentrate of grains and fibre rich raw material) for nutrition and energy and if they are not eating the feed their strength and health will deteriorate.

However, he says from what he has seen it is not enough to postpone racing, even though some barns have been affected more than others.

“There are over 1,100 horses on the track and I have been going through the track and I have not come across 50 horses that are affected. Those that are affected will be taken out of the race meet for tomorrow (Wednesday). But I see no reason why racing shouldn’t be on,” he said.


He also dispelled rumours that SUPREME SOUL, who returned from the USA recently after a month in quarantine, may have started the spread of a virus.

“There is nothing to verify that story, SUPREME SOUL was quarantined all the time while he was in Florida (for the Caribbean Classic). SUPREME SOUL had several tests that were done and everything was clean. He came back to Jamaica and hasn’t mixed with the horses at the track, except for those in his immediate vicinity,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sharpe, admitted that the situation could affect today’s meet. However, he remains positive and hopeful it will turn out to be a successful day.

“Racing is on. But it’s too early to say how it will be affected. We might have some non-­runners, so it is something we have to assess every hour but we will have racing,” he insisted.

“The trainers are watching their horses and they will report accordingly. But we have a racetrack ready for racing,” he continued.

Sharpe said the health of the horses remains their priority and they will do nothing to ­jeopardise the animals well-being.

“If there is anything to compromise their health, we will make sure we make the necessary steps. We will celebrate the champions of 2019 tomorrow (Wednesday) and we just hope it all works out. We have some loyal patrons and we hope they come out to have a nice day at the track,” he added.