KINGSTON, Jamaica – Grooms, among the hardest-working subset in horse racing, have something to smile about during the COVID-19 lockdown of the industry.
Even when races are not being run, grooms have to be on the job – and with the indefinite shutdown of operations at Caymanas Park it becomes more difficult for grooms to sustain themselves financially.
So, it came as no surprise when Cal’s Manufacturing Limited stepped in to lend some assistance to ease some of the suffering of grooms in a virus-ravaged world.
Approximately 300 of the over 500 licensed grooms have benefited from gift packages provided by Cal’s Manufacturing at Caymanas Park on Monday. Cal’s Manufacturing is headed by former champion owner Carlton Watson.
Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), the sole promoter of horse racing in Jamaica, was forced to cease normal operations on March 22 due to the spread of the deadly coronavirus on the island.
Fabian White, president of the Grooms’ Association of Jamaica, welcomed the help from Cal’s Manufacturing Limited.
“It is a very good initiative and I love every moment of it. Right now everyone is going through a crisis. Mr Watson [Carlton] has his family, he has his business, he has his workers and he is also an owner and so he has a lot of bills to pay, and for him to do this is really good and we are very much grateful,” White told the Jamaica Observer.
“I know the situation where we have grooms being laid off, their pay being cut and horses being turned out to farms, and these people have families to take care of. And so, I wrote a letter to Mr Watson asking him for some assistance in any way he can, and he responded. He said that his company will be giving gifts to around 300 grooms.
“We currently have over 500 grooms and if he is giving 300 grooms gifts then kudos to him for that. That is a joy, and so anything else we get from others we are going to make it up and assist the other 200 grooms so that no one is left out. But, we thank Cal’s for doing this,” White said.
Representatives from Cal’s Manufacturing went to each stable delivering packages to grooms. The packages contained rice, flour, syrup, Cal’s bag juices, cooking oil, among other food items.
“I can tell you this, Mr Watson not only sponsors grooms but also the whole racing industry, trainers, jockeys, grooms – I mean everybody – and so we thank him for this and I want to see this with other people as well,” White ended.