Racing shutdown averted
Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
A shutdown of horse racing has been averted following a meeting between the Caymanas Track Limited (CTL) management and a large group of stakeholders over the contentious issue of purse cuts, in the Trainers' Room at Caymanas Park yesterday.
The purse cuts, representing 4.8 per cent, should have come into effect today with a view of saving the cash-strapped CTL $74 million over the next 12 months.
On Monday, the trainers vowed not to nominate horses today for Saturday's race meet. But certain assurances were given to the stakeholders at yesterday's meeting with CTL's Chief Executive Officer Cedric Stewart and board member Andrew Azar, prompting the trainers to reverse their decision.
As a result, they will nominate horses for Saturday's racing this morning inside the CTL Racing Office.
According to Jamaica Racehorse Trainers' Association president, Vin Edwards, one of the conditions is that the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC) should be given time to look at the request of the stakeholders, who claim the conditions for the purse cuts are not legal and should be withdrawn.
Ruth Ann Smith-Sutherland, the JRC general manager, confirmed that she received a letter from the horsemen on Monday and the "JRC board will look at the request".
In addition, it was disclosed at the meeting that finance minister, Dr Peter Phillips, is prepared to meet with the stakeholders at the earliest possible time to try and resolve the issues. There will also be further dialogue between CTL and the stakeholders to improve the racing product.
Stewart said: "The Racing Commission has not had an opportunity to consider either the CTL request for purse cuts or the stakeholders request. We therefore ask them to delay any further action."
Laurence Heffes, president of the Jamaica Racehorse Owners' Association, said: "There is a need for further dialogue before any drastic action is taken, and I am pleased that the race meet has been saved."