Fri | Jun 5, 2020

Caymanas needs $12 mil per week during COVID-19 crisis – Darby

Published:Friday | April 10, 2020 | 12:07 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer -
PRINCE CHARLES (right), ridden by Reyan Lewis, wins the Ash Wednesday Trophy ahead of WARTIME, ridden by Raddesh Roman at Caymanas Park on Wednesday, February 26.
PRINCE CHARLES (right), ridden by Reyan Lewis, wins the Ash Wednesday Trophy ahead of WARTIME, ridden by Raddesh Roman at Caymanas Park on Wednesday, February 26.

United Racehorse Trainers Association president Ryan Darby says that it will require $12 million per week to keep the horse racing afloat during the period of inactivity at Caymanas Park because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Darby's comments came during yesterday's Gleaner Editors Forum addressing the effects of COVID-19 on Jamaican sports. The suspension of activity at Caymanas Park has put the industry under financial strain and Darby says that an injection of funds will help significant to easy the high level of uncertainty that now exists.

"We a did a fine tooth combing of the cost and it would average $12 million per week to sustain the industry at this slow state," Darby said. "We are extremely worried. What we don't want to happen is a complete breakdown of the racing industry. That's why it is important for some support to come our way that at least when COVID-19 eventually passes, we will have enough foundation left to rebuild quickly."

March 21 was the last time that Caymanas Park hosted a racing card. The next day, local promoters Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited suspended operations indefinitely. That race day and the previous one on March 17 were done without fans or owners in attendance because of the Government's restriction on mass public gatherings. Among the races affected by the shutdown are the 1000 and 2000 Guineas which were scheduled for this Weekend.

In an earlier Gleaner report on March 24, Darby said that it is costing owners and trainers $20 million to maintain operations because of the closure of Caymanas Park. But while stakeholders are desperate for a return to action for an opportunity to recoup income lost, Darby says that patience must be exercised as they do not want to expose fans to any danger when the current crisis has not yet subsided.

"I have spoken to a lot of trainers and I have said from the start that we just need to cut back and take it easy and stop thinking too far ahead," he said. "Stop rushing for racing to start back, because at the end of the day, life is the most important thing. So we cannot rush into trying to get racing to run if its going to endanger the general public at large at the same time. So we'll try and take it as slowly and easily as possible so that we can withstand and bear the journey of this disaster."

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com