Mon | Jul 6, 2020

Virus wreaks havoc at Caymanas

Published:Thursday | February 27, 2020 | 12:24 AMAinsley Walters/Gleaner Writer

HORSE RACING at Caymanas Park was marred by 17 non-runners yesterday, 14 of which were before the 11:35 a.m. start of the holiday Ash Wednesday card. This was reportedly caused by a virus sweeping through the 196-acre property.

Near the end of the 11-race card, Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited further announced that Saturday’s meet was postponed until next Wednesday, “due to insufficient entries”, a malady often solved by reopening entries until the following day.

Asked whether the yet-to-be-confirmed virus was the result of the paucity of horses nominated, SVREL’s racing office gave vague responses, sticking to it’s “insufficient entries” statement.

Earlier in the afternoon, trainers withdrew their mounts, who, in a report carried by The Gleaner on Saturday, have been spiking fevers and refusing pellet feed, instead sticking to natural forage such as hay and grass.

Worst affected were races four, nine, 10 and 11, with two non-runners apiece. Meanwhile, speculation abounded about the origin of the virus, which veterinary sources said tests are being done to confirm whether it was a strain of tick fever.

Tick fever, which is endemic to Jamaica, recently caused Triple Crown winner SUPREME SOUL to have been quarantined in Florida after participating in the Caribbean Classic, sparking desperate pleas from the horse’s connections for its return to Jamaica.

The Jamaica Racing Commission’s (JRC) veterinary department worked overtime to have SUPREME SOUL return to Jamaica, after which he should have entered quarantine locally.

However, the Triple Crown winner was not quarantined at the requisite Government facility nor was he admitted to the quarantine barn at Caymanas Park.

Former senior JRC veterinarian, Dr St Aubyn Bartlett refused on Saturday to divulge exactly where SUPREME SOUL was quarantined before rejoining champion trainer Anthony Nunes’ barn, the biggest at Caymanas Park, instead pointing queries to the government’s veterinary division, indignantly adding that SUPREME SOUL’s quarantine location was “not germane to what was happening at Caymanas Park”.

Bartlett, in yesterday’s Gleaner report was quoted as saying: “ … SUPREME SOUL was quarantined all the time while he was in Florida (for the Caribbean Classic). SUPREME SOUL had several tests that were done and everything was clean. He came back to Jamaica and hasn’t mixed with the horses at the track, except for those in his immediate vicinity.”

Meanwhile, Nunes was among two trainers saddling two winners yesterday, TASK FORCE in the fourth event, and PRINCE CHARLES, who closed the programme with victory in the Ash Wednesday Trophy.

Wayne DaCosta joined Nunes and Johnny Wilmot with two winners, opening the card with ROJORN DE PILOT and landing FAKE NEWS in the fifth.

TASK FORCE and PRINCE CHARLES were both ridden by claiming apprentice Reyan Lewis, who topped all riders with three winners, also booting home 8-1 chance LAZER LIGHT in the eighth.

Apprentice Oshane Nugent rode back-to-back winners to record his first career two-timer, BAY TO GREY and MISS LINDA WRAY, in the sixth and seventh races, respectively, a quick double for trainer Johnny Wilmot.

Six-time champion Omar Walker, who won aboard ROJORN DE PILOT and stunned astride 16-1 upsetter, KEY WITNESS, in the ninth, also rode two winners.

ainsley.walters@gleanerjm.com