Racing returns to Caymanas Park on June 20
Horse racing will return to Caymanas Park on June 20, three months after concerns around the coronavirus disease in Jamaica, forced the Park's closure and brought the local industry to a standstill.
The announcement was made in Parliament late on Wednesday by Minister of Finance Dr Nigel Clarke, who also told Parliamentarians that Off Track Betting Parlours (OTBs) will be allowed to resume operations under outlined protocols aimed at limiting the spread of the virus.
"The Jamaica Racing Commission and the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission have worked with all racing stakeholders, groups and protocol consultants in developing COVID-19 protocols for a safe restart at the racetrack as well as the OTBs, mindful of the need to mitigate heath risks," Clarke said.
"The government understands the challenge facing the workers of the country and we are committed to balancing lives. The restart for racing is going ot be programmed for the 20th of June ... We are continuing to reopen the country in a phased manner with safety remaining a priority," Clarke added.
Operations at the facility were brought to a halt on March 21, after Jamaica registered its first cases of the coronavirus disease. To date, 605 persons have tested positive for the virus. There have been 405 recoveries and 10 deaths.
This move comes in the wake of a general relaxing of counter measures. The Government recently reopened the country's borders and also ended a work-from-home mandate.
Industry insiders have worked over the last couple weeks to present a protocol document to the Ministry of Finance and Public Service, outlining hygiene and social distancing measures. There was a hope that racing would resume this weekend but despite the one-week delay on that target, stakeholders are sure to welcome this development.
"I want to recognise the hard work of the Jamaica Racing Committee and Betting Gaming and Lotteries Commission in leading the efforts that have brought us to this point today," Clarke continued. "I want to take time to also recognise the promoters of horse racing in Jamaica that includes the entity that supports the prizes the purses from horse racing and also includes the owner of the track, with the parent company being Supreme Ventures. So good news that we will be reopening the Caymanas track."
Races are promoted at the Park by Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited.