Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
Yesterday's race meet at Caymanas Park was marred by a massive spill in the eighth race on the round-five course, this involving seven horses and their riders.
It occurred at the home turn when BEYOND, who was challenging the leader and subsequent winner LIVE WIRE on the inside rails, stumbled and fell in a crowded field, decking her rider, the in-form apprentice Ruja Lahoe, in the process.
BEYONCE's fall caused an immediate chain reaction, resulting in a spectacular pile-up in which six other horses lost their riders in the melee.
The horses involved were BALLROOM DANCER, ridden by apprentice Kuri Powell; THE RUNNING MAN with jockey Oral Bennett; ITAINTEASYBEINGME with apprentice Rajiv Chatrie; DANIELLE MY GIRL with apprentice Prince Holder; MISS CRYSTAL with top apprentice Renardo McNaughton; and GLOBAL WARMING with jockey Larris Allen.
With the running rails knocked out and the riders scattered about the track, the incident was reminiscent of a plane crash site. Scores of racing fans quickly converged on the scene and again at the Caymanas First-Aid Post to get an update on the condition of the riders.
Coming out worse was Lahoe, who had to be rushed to the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) for further observation. According to reports coming out of the First-Aid Post, Lahoe sustained a neck injury and was bleeding from the mouth and nostril.
Veteran racing commentator, Brian 'Spuddy' Rickman, said: "In 30 years of calling races at Caymans Park, I've never seen anything like this ... never."
Many racing fans echoed similar sentiments.
Jamaica's lone female trainer, Margaret Parchment, said a limit should be placed on the number of horses contesting races on the round course for $180,000 claimers.
Just too many
"Fourteen is just too many in a sharp sprint for horses at this level, who are not usually the soundest in racing," she said.
"I felt badly about the incident and voiced my concerns to the stewards of the meet," she was quick to add.
Significantly, the pile-up occurred at the same spot where top female jockey, Georgina Sergeon, was seriously injured in a spill on Saturday, January 21 this year. She sustained a spinal injury which required surgery and to this day is yet to return to the saddle, having undergone months of therapy sessions.
Earlier on the 10-race programme, outgoing champion jockey Dick Cardenas, who rode MY MONEY in the fifth race, and Chalrick Budhai aboard JESSEE JAMES, both escaped injury in a two-horse spill at the start. Cardenas did not ride for the remainder of the day.
Meanwhile, champion jockey designate Dane Nelson highlighted the 10-race programme with three winners, while 2-5 favourite CITY FLIGHT, with Omar Walker riding for in-form trainer Gary Subratie and leading owner Michros, romped the Dye Job Sprint Trophy to be unbeaten in two starts.