Darby dismisses new URTAJ slate
Says elections still on for February, Racing Commission mum
A DEFIANT and tough-talking Ryan Darby said he still remains the president of the United Racehorse Trainers’ Association of Jamaica (URTAJ) after a breakaway group elected Patrick Smellie as the new head of the organisation on Tuesday.
Darby, who has been the president of URTAJ since 2017, told The Gleaner that his organisation had no knowledge of Tuesday’s elections and, therefore, his association’s executive remains intact ahead of properly constituted elections set for next month.
“There is no change to the organisation. Ryan Darby is the president and Steven Todd is the vice-president and Lawrence Freemantle is the acting secretary,” said Darby.
“We had a meeting with the trainers a couple of weeks ago, and it was announced that the elections will be held on the 17th of February,” he shared.
“It was published in the Track and Pool in the last race meet, but yet still these guys find it fitting to go ahead and have their own elections. I don’t know what the name of their group is and what they are about and what they are trying to do or achieve,” Darby said.
The veteran trainer underscored that the timing of the rogue group has caused massive disruption for the organisation, which is currently in the middle of a series of negotiations with a number of entities.
“I think this is a distraction from our purse negotiations and some issues that we are having with the Jamaica Racing Commission, and for me right now there are no elections, and URTAJ elections are scheduled for the 17th of February,” Darby stated.
He underscored that the organisation has been without a secretary after Bernard Vincent was removed from the post two years ago.
The Gleaner managed to obtain what seemed to be a page of the URTAJ constitution from Smellie. No reason for the unavailability of the entire document was forthcoming. On that page, under the heading ‘Section 12’, what appears to be the constitution states: “Special meetings of the members may be called by the president or the secretary of the association or upon written request of any three members of the executive committee or by ten  financial members of the association.”
Another quote relevant to the argument titled ‘Sections 16’ states: “The supreme authority of the United Racehorse Trainers’ of Jamaica Limited shall be vested in the Bi-ennial General Meeting subject to that Authority it shall be governed by an Executive Committee between sessions of the Bi-ennial General Meeting.”
As far as The Gleaner has been able to discern, the meeting to elect Smellie and his slate was not called by any members of the executive committee nor was it called by the requisite 10 financial members of the association.
However, Smellie is also adamant that the elections were constitutionally held and he is the new president of the association.
“We had a legal, constitutional, democratic election yesterday [Tuesday], where the people voted their choice, and so that is what we are moving forward with,” said Smellie.
“I am the elected president of this organisation, and so my term is just for two years,” he said.
“His term was for two years from 2017 to 2019, and there were no elections since, and we wrote to him sometime back in 2018, and there was no response, and so the general secretary called the elections, which he has the powers to do, and he called the elections,” Smellie said.
Darby refuted that claim, however, pointing out that the organisation has been without a secretary after Bernard Vincent was removed from the post two years ago.
Tuesday’s voting was attended by two representatives of Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC), but according to its chairman, Clovis Metcalfe, his organisation was just asked to observe the proceedings.
“We were invited to the meeting, and we advised them that we will attend but only in the role of an observer, and we attended in that role only,” said Metcalfe.
“As it relates to endorsing any executive, the new executive will have to make a request to the Jamaica Racing Commission, at which time the commission will require minutes of that meeting, and we will require a voting list,” he said.
“People must remember that the JRC has a master list of all the registered trainers, and we will request a copy of the constitution. Then we would pass that on to our attorneys to indicate to us whether or not we should recognise the new executive committee,” Metcalfe pointed out.
The election saw Smellie, a veteran trainer, defeating Dale Murphy 43-8 from the 51 votes cast by the trainers at the trainers’ room at Caymanas Park.
However, Murphy was elected unopposed as the first vice-president, with Maurice Crooks as the second vice-president, and Richard Phillips as the third vice-president. Crooks was also elected treasurer.