Wed | Aug 12, 2020

Caymanas crawlers! - Scorpions, ‘forty-legs’ terrorise horses at Caymanas Park

Published:Thursday | November 14, 2019 | 12:00 AMRobert Bailey/Gleaner Writer
Groom Cedric Hardware tends to a stable at Caymanas Park yesterday morning. The stables have reportedly been overrrun by scorpions and centipedes, presenting a threat to the horses, grooms and other interests.
Wayne Dacosta

Reigning champion trainer Wayne DaCosa and this year’s leading trainer, Anthony ‘Baba’ Nunes, are among stakeholders complaining of a major infestation of scorpions and centipedes (forty legs) in the stables area at Caymanas Park.

DaCosta, who currently has several stables at the facility, said this problem has resulted in a number of his horses dying in the past and has called for immediate attention to the matter.

“We have been plagued for years now with an overpopulation of scorpions and ‘forty-legs’, which have been biting the horses on a regular basis,” DaCosta told The Gleaner during a visit to the stables yesterday.

“There seems to be no ease-up, especially when you have a lot of rain like what we are having now. Whenever their (insects) holes become filled with water, they come out looking for warm spaces and so they go into stalls and when the horses are laying down to sleep, these insects would crawl on their legs and bite them,” DaCosta added.

DaCosta, an 18-time champion trainer, listed dark bay Gelding PERFECT NEIGHBOUR, a four-time Governor’s Cup winner and filly TANTALOO, as two of his many horses that were seriously hurt by the pests at Caymanas Park.

“TANTALOO didn’t race again and PERFECT NEIGHBOUR wasn’t the same horse after the bite,” a clearly frustrated DaCosta lamented.

“Right now, I have a two-year-old who was bitten a month ago and I am not sure if she is going to ever race. We have been asking for a better system in spraying these forty legs and scorpions and nothing seems to be happening,” the veteran trainer complained.

Nunes, meanwhile, has described the situation as a very serious issue and also called on the facility’s owners, Supreme Ventures and Entertainment Limited (SVREL) to employ the necessary measures to protect the horses and those who work in the area.

Ongoing problem

“I have been at this stable for the last 15 years, and it has been an epidemic, with the scorpions and ‘forty-legs’ problem for those 15-years that I have been here,” said Nunes. “CTL (Caymanas Track Limited) used to come and spray once a month, but with SVREL, not so much.

“I have had many horses who have been bitten by these insects, including FAYROUZ and BUTTLER’S CABIN, (who) died from it,” Nunes said. “Every year, we have had many horses who have been bitten, but very few survive, and so this needs to be addressed immediately.”

When contacted yesterday for an indication of plans to combat the situation, chairman of SVREL, Soloman Sharpe, said he was unable to comment on the matter.

Meanwhile, Dr. St Aubyn Bartlett, Senior Veterinarian Consultant at the Jamaica Racing Commission, described the infestation problem as a major worry for everyone at the facility.

“It is definitely a matter that will concern all of us in racing and especially those of us in the veterinarian world and of course the trainers and those who look after the horses,” said Dr Bartlett.

“I think what the trainers and grooms need to ensure that they rake the bedding everyday and look for those insects,” he said.

Approximately 1500 horses are currently housed in stables at Caymanas Park.