The deluge – 156 horses nominated, 140 to run on Saturday (June 20) card

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KINGSTON, Jamaica – It was expected.

After a gruesome waiting period of three months, the anticipated tsunami of entries to mark the return of competitive racing tomorrow at Caymanas Park unleashed itself on Tuesday last (June 16).

On Tuesday, 156 entries were received for eight offered races, which led to three races being split for a total of 11 races to kick start tomorrow’s programme.

On Tuesday, no Overnight was released by the promoting company, Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), due to a variety of reasons.

Several stakeholders were not licensed including jockeys, grooms, trainers, and owners, plus there were some technical glitches as made known on the SVREL website. The packed Overnight was made public on Wednesday afternoon.

The regulatory arm of racing, the Jamaica Racing Commission, intervened by allowing unlicensed stakeholders to pay their licensing fees up to yesterday, which was also scratch time.

“We anticipated the deluge of entries at the promoting company. That is one of the reasons why nomination day was moved from its usual day of Wednesday to Tuesday,” chairman of SVREL, Solomon Sharpe, told this publication.

Sharpe then informed that the promoting company would stick to the format of having nomination day for Saturday races on a Tuesday, with scratch time on the Wednesday following.

“When races are planned on a Sunday, nomination day moves to a Wednesday with scratch time the following Thursday. That is the new normal,” Sharpe said.

While giving his approval to the change of nomination days, long-standing trainer Gresford Smith offered that this new move isn’t of significant value to racing professionals at this time.

“For me, it does not matter. Because of COVID-19, we have suffered for three long months. The hardships we went through to keep and care for our grooms and our horses were burdensome, it was painful, and it dug deep into our resources, that is, if one had any resources in the first place.

“At this point, all I am interested in is having a nomination day, then the Overnight, then scratch time and then the actual races.

“We have to lessen the blows we have faced, and the only way to do that is to have races for us to earn.

“Separate and apart from what I have just said, I have no issues with the proposed change of the nomination days,” Smith said.

During this week, SVREL conducted seminars at the race track on the health protocols that will be in place tomorrow when races get underway. These seminars were primarily geared for racing professionals who always will be the cog of the race day.

“We had these seminars, and they were well attended. We went through all the protocols as prescribed by the Ministry of Health.

“At this stage, it is my firm belief that the racing professionals are in tune with their obligations during the conduct of the race day.

“These health protocols have to be followed, and we (SVREL) will be monitoring the situation throughout tomorrow (Saturday), to ensure that all that needs to be done is done,” Sharpe said.