Fri | Aug 14, 2020

Seeking greener pastures - Local thoroughbreds relocated to stud farms in cost-cutting bid

Published:Friday | April 24, 2020 | 12:22 AMRobert Bailey/Gleaner Writer
SENTIENT, ridden by Jockey Anthony Thomas, winning the Overnight Allowance over 1600 metres at Caymanas Park on Saturday, February 15, 2020.
SENTIENT, ridden by Jockey Anthony Thomas, winning the Overnight Allowance over 1600 metres at Caymanas Park on Saturday, February 15, 2020.

United Racehorse Trainers Association president Ryan Darby says many trainers have relocated their thoroughbreds from the exercise track at Caymanas Park, where they would do morning training sessions, to stud farms around the country. This, Darby says, is a measure to cut costs during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced a suspension of the racing season since March 21.

Darby told The Gleaner that with no opportunity to earn due to the recent closure of Caymanas Park, some of the trainers are finding it very difficult to feed and care for their horses.

“It is very bad,” he said. “It is very serious and we are very concerned and worried because there is no other way for us to earn if the racing industry is locked down. We don’t know when the races will be running again, so we can’t keep the horses in full training, and feeding them at the same time.

“I have a bush. I, too, will turn out some of my horses there and let them rest, because it is much cheaper having them there.”

Darby said that it is costing trainers around $12 million per week to care for the over 1,500 horses at Caymanas Park.

He said that if the pandemic continues, then many of the trainers may also be forced to lay off some of their grooms.

“We are facing real circumstances over here, so we have to try and find ways to survive this coronavirus pandemic,” Darby said. “The grooms are the only ones whose employment has not changed much, but over time, some cutting will have to take place if this pandemic continues because we won’t have any money to pay them to look after the horses.

“We have been hanging on for survival and we are suffocating, so it is very possible for racing to die right now.

“I think it is necessary that as an industry, some assistance comes our way. I think that any injection of funds right now will be good for us because the industry is suffocating and needs help quickly.”

robert.bailey@gleanerjm.com