KINGSTON, Jamaica – Even from three furlongs out, the sound of hooves beating on the race track at Caymanas Park could be heard.
This occurrence is abnormal, as usually when a race is run at the park, the dominating sound is the thundering voices of punters giving support to their wagers or robustly berating jockeys, while flinging their race books in the air.
It certainly was not the typical race meet at Caymanas Park yesterday as the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) forced the hands of the promoting company to operate without the presence of spectators (punters) from the stands. This was the first time in the 61-year history of racing at Caymanas Park.
The hustle and bustle of punters streaming from the Parade Ring to the betting windows was not present; the vendors providing a variety of dried and cooked niceties were absent; and the various bars stretching from the clubstand to the grandstand were all closed.
While all these regular features were missing and sorely missed, the stated health precautions promised by the promoting company were not.
Those allowed entry to the Caymanas compound were sanitised and even the seating area for media personnel located at the roof of the stands was cleaned and sanitised by workers who returned at intervals to sanitise door knobs and chairs.
Racing professionals complied with the established health protocols and many were simply glad to see the race day go through without any hitches or scares.
“Well, for me, the main thing is to have the horses running. The control of people congregating together was well done, and all the workers at the track were all over spraying and rubbing down the place, and all of us — trainers, jockeys, grooms, and others — fully understood what was happening, and all complied with the situation,” said trainer, owner and breeder Carl Anderson, who saddled Lord of Ajahlon to victory in the fourth race of 10 on the day.
“This coronavirus thing is a national thing, and I recognise this, but today we saw what discipline and commitment can achieve,” Anderson added.
Jacqueline Banton, who for 10 years has been cleaning the upstairs section of the third floor at Caymanas Park, where the renowned ‘glass house’ is located, was a bit lonely not seeing her many friends and associates on a race day, but she took comfort in the fact that she was playing her part.
“I work with Warming Limited that provides the sanitation at Caymanas Park. Today (yesterday) was quite different. Nobody was around, but I understand that ‘Miss Corona’ is around, and to have the horses running at all, things would be different,” Banton said.
“Before the race day, the people from Supreme Ventures Racing had meetings with us, telling us to be careful, and how to operate today (yesterday). They explained what was to be done, like cleaning the doors, the bathrooms, and other places. After every two races, I clean the doors and other places,” Banton shared.
She then explained how she took care of the bathrooms.
“Well, after a person goes into the bathroom and uses it, I go in and clean the water pipe, the urinal, the paper towel container and the soap dispenser. This is done every time a person use the bathroom. And to tell the truth, it is not a lot of work today (March 17) as there are only about 10 or 12 people here right now,” a proud and smiling Banton said.