Trainers welcome the return of racing – say they want to go

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Ray Phillips

KINGSTON, Jamaica – After a three-month break from racing, trainers and other professionals are on the bit for the return of competitive racing on Saturday next (June 20). Here are their views.

TRAINER GARY SUBRATIE: I feel ecstatic about the return of racing. We, the horse people need it, and Jamaica needs it. We have been punished for three, four months. I mean, it is not by anybody’s design but it just happened, and it is good to see everybody coming together and get[ting] things going. We have to follow the protocols because we have to protect each other.

 TRAINER WAYNE DACOSTA: The protocols are not impossible as they are reasonable, and I have no problem with them. It is just the long wait we have had for the three months. We are one of the last industries to open, for what reason, I don’t know [as] we have no COVID-19 cases at Caymanas Park at present. It has been a long wait.

TRAINER ANTHONY NUNES: We have not earned a dollar since March 21. It has been challenging but it is a pandemic, and the most important thing is that the people of Jamaica stay healthy. I guess we have reached the point when we have to learn to live with COVID because it is going to be around for a while. I think the Government has done an outstanding job and it’s hats off to them for what they are doing, and also hats off to the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission, the Jamaica Racing Commission, Supreme Ventures, and the stakeholders for working together to have racing again. The protocols are what they are and again, we have to try to protect people as health is first and foremost. If there is to be racing, we have to have these protocols and follow them – that’s the key.

TRAINER PATRICK FONG: I am a horseman, and I feel great knowing that racing is returning. As horsemen, we were starving for so long for racing to come back, and we will follow all the protocols. I have no problems when it comes to following the protocols.

TRAINER ALFORD BROWN: I feel very, very good about the return of racing and to be honest, I never came off the job. But I am excited and happy to know that what we love so much, racing, we are getting back with the protocols. We need to be obedient and follow the rules, and we will be alright.

TRAINER RAY PHILLIPS: The feeling is good to be back on the job again. We have to work with the protocols, and even with the cutting of purses. I still feel happy knowing that racing will be back; I feel good within myself because we have a lot of horses, and a lot of owners are bawling, as a lot of money has been spent during the three-month break, and there was no money turning over. I hope racing will continue and that we don’t have any more setbacks. The horses are alright in my barn and they are ready to go, and I hope I can find the right races for them where they can be comfortable so that I can win some races for the owners.

TRAINER ROBERT PEARSON: It is excellent for racing to return, I mean, we have been all waiting anxiously for three months. I think during the interim we have been preparing, we have been working our horses slowly, and so I think we are fully ready for June 20. We have to follow the protocols because of the health issues with COVID-19, and I think, these protocols are workable and manageable, and we will adhere to the rules. My horses are great and they are ready to go. Will in Charge is working towards a race in July; he is up to a half mile now, so let’s see how it goes.

 JOCKEY ANTHONY THOMAS: I am pleased and excited that racing is returning to the Park. It has been a while, but I am delighted. With the protocols, I have no problems as we have to follow them, as safety comes first.