KINGSTON, Jamaica – Champion trainer Anthony Nunes, was one of two trainers to saddle two winners on the historic race meeting at Caymanas Park on Tuesday (March 17), which took place without spectators present as a safeguard against COVID-19.
Nunes, although missing the excitement and noise, was doubly satisfied to see his charges Let Them Fly and Toona Ciliata get by the winning post in front.
Toona Ciliata, the now established top-tier four-year-old chestnut gelded son of Soul Warrior – Red Gold, won the King’s Plate, which was an Open Allowance contest run over seven and a half furlongs. Toona Ciliata won in a time of 1:33.1. Let Them Fly, a three-year-old, was winning for the first time from four career starts.
“Toona Ciliata was coming off of a three-month plus layoff and he is only about 80 per cent fit. I was very pleased that he beat a quality four-year-old (Sentient) that has been on a recent winning streak and doing well.
“We have high hopes for him [Toona Ciliata] going to the backend of the year that he will be contending successfully in the ‘A’ Class.
“We figured that it did not make sense to have him in his stall, wound-up and uptight with a long year ahead. We wanted to ease him gradually into the year and I thought that is what we did, and hopefully he will come out of the race both healthy and happy. Where he will run next? I am not sure, but we will just take our time making that decision and will move on from there,” Nunes said.
On the matter of saddling two winners on a spectator-less day, Nunes said it was most unusual.
“It was truly a historic day for horse racing. I missed the passion and the excitement of our fans, whether they are cheering for you or against you. That certainly was an element that was not here today (March 17), especially after each race.
“I appreciate that the promoting company [Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL)], the Government, the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission, and the Jamaica Racing Commission came together to stage this race meeting.
“Our industry is different. We cannot shut our doors, draw down our shutters and return after four weeks. The horses have to be fed, they have to be taken care of, they have to work and exercise, even if it is slow, to avoid any colic and so forth. That means that we have to be here at Caymanas Park anyway. So why not allow the stakeholders to earn some money?
“We have to take all the necessary precautions as prescribed by the health authorities to deal with COVID-19. There is no way around this action.
“Plus, I know that SVREL are going to lose money on spectator-less race days, no doubt about that, especially with no betting at the race track and with limited assembly of punters at the off-track betting stations.
“This action by SVREL sends a powerful message to the stakeholders of racing. Having the race meeting today [March 17] shows that not only an understanding of the the situation we face with our workers and the horses, but also that they care,” Nunes said.