Orville Clarke, Freelance Writer
YESTERDAY'S RACE meet at Caymanas Park was marred by a false start in the sixth race over 1200 metres for maiden three-year-olds which was caused by a malfunctioning of the starting gates.
Unlike previous false starts, however, all 15 horses which faced the starter completed the race with victory going to the 42-1 outsider BORDER PATROL, ridden by apprentice Javour Simpson for owner Kemarley and trainer Ralph Porter.
However, hardly had the dust settled when news came through that the gates had malfunctioned and it was declared a false start even though the flagman, placed 100 metres ahead of the gates, did not indicate this by waving his flag.
All the trainers with horses in the race were summoned to the Stewards' Room and were told it was a false start and the race had to be rerun immediately. But the trainers objected to this and, in the end, the race was declared void (abandoned) in accordance with Rule 48 of local racing.
According to JRC operations steward, Eustace Williams, quoting from the book of rules, the relevant rule states:
"In the event that any horse runs a distance of the course from a false start at a pace, in which the opinion of the stewards could affect the said horse's performance in the immediate restart of such race, the owner of the said horse may be permitted with the consent of the stewards to withdraw such horse from the race."
Gates failed to open in time
Williams went on to point out that Rule 47 gives the starter the sole authority to declare the race a false start and, in this instance, the official starter, Michael Casserly, made the call. Looking at the slow-motion replay of the race, some of the gates, namely two, seven, eight and nine, failed to open in time with the others.
As a result, there were automatic carryovers in both the Pick-9 and Pick-6 exotic bets. CTL's racing secretary, Denzil Miller Jr., said this was in accordance with the rules and regulations but some punters said this rule was grossly unfair and needed to be revised.
With a carryover of $7.6 million, the Pick-9, which had eluded punters for nine consecutive race days, sold heavily yesterday and the carryover to next Saturday stands at a whopping $9.8 million.
The whole mess did not go over well with trainers, jockeys and many other racing personnel in the vicinity of the Trainers' Room and Jockeys' Room, both in close proximity of the Stewards' Room.
Outspoken trainer Donovan Bruce said: "CTL should compensate the connections of every horse in the race for expenses incurred because this was clearly the promoters fault".
In the absence of Jamaica Racehorse Trainers' Association (JRTA) president, Vin Edwards, vice-president Frank Parham said: "We have been complaining about the starting gate for the past four weeks and things like these should not be allowed to happen at a modern racing track which turns over millions of dollars each race day."
Meanwhile, FIWI EMBLEM, highly fancied at 8-5, held on grimly by a neck to win the Reca Trophy feature over 1400 metres (claiming $315,000 - $285,000) in a driving finish from the 3-5 favourite CAPTAIN BONE. The winner was ridden by title-chasing jockey Oneil Mullings for trainer Lawrence Freemantle.