Santa Rosa Park is currently the country's only race track and hosts all of Trinidad's major races, including The Royal Oak Derby, Guineas, President's Cup and Midsummer Classic. It is a place where horse owners, fanciers, punters, amateurs and professionals, rich and poor and the common man can mingle and talk about their passion for horse racing and breeding at the Arima Race Club (ARC).
Arima Race Club
The ARC is the sole promoter of local horse racing in the country. Racing is a sport as well as an industry in all progressive jurisdictions such as T&T. The ARC was established under the country's Gambling and Betting Act and it has always been supported by Government through the Betting Levy Board, a Statutory Board set up with the mandate to develop the racing industry. Another Statutory Board, the Trinidad and Tobago Racing Authority, was established to regulate the operations of the ARC.
Horse racing has been a popular sport in T&T for more than 120 years and enjoyed by people from all walks of life. Horse racing continues to be a sport that attracts people from all levels of society and it is particularly attractive to groups of family members, friends, and visitors. Several people from Arima find direct or indirect employment in the industry. Patrons and “turfites” participating in horse racing on a day of live racing range from 1,500 to 5,000 at Santa Rosa Park.
People converge on a race day to enjoy the races and race meetings are usually staged on a Saturday, certain public holidays, and selected Fridays. It is the ideal venue for socialising on a race day.
Until 1994, the sport was held at three race tracks in Trinidad. One of those tracks was located in Arima. However, with the centralisation of racing in 1994, Santa Rosa Park was selected as the site for the race track.
Santa Rosa Park is ideally situated in the Borough of Arima, along the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway obliquely opposite the O'Meara Road, the main artery to the centre of Arima. The park is surrounded by a host of growing commercial and industrial operations as well as residential areas—The villages of Evergreen, Carapo, Jokhan Trace, and Peytonville are located to the south and east of the Park.
Over the years, the sport of horse racing has consistently received generous and loyal support from some of its most prominent stakeholders, including people who have made sterling contributions to the country in other walks of life. Many well-known businessmen, sportsmen and ordinary people from Arima were at the forefront of the sport.
Contribution to community, country
According to the ARC, the racing industry provides jobs for many people who may potentially be at risk, because of lack of opportunities, as trainers, jockeys, exercise lads, grooms, carpenters, masons, equipment operators, and labourers. The racing aspect of the industry employs approximately 1,000 people directly and it is responsible for the livelihoods of hundreds of families. The breeding of horses is conducted on numerous farms around the country and scores of others are employed. There is substantial downstream employment as a direct result of the racing industry.
Owners and other people connected to the horses generally find the time to visit the park to view or tend to their horses on days on which there are no competitive racing. As a result, there is continuous economic activity at the park.
The industry is funded by revenue generated from betting as well as corporate sponsorship and a subvention from the Government via the Betting Levy Board. The racing industry falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Trade and Industry which has always supported the growth and development of the industry.
Corporate sponsors in Arima have recognised the continued importance of the industry to the social and economic development of the Borough of Arima and the country, and they have provided generous support. These sponsors understand and appreciate the fact that by supporting the industry they are not only using their involvement as a tool for promotion and marketing of their business but also to assist the dispossessed people and communities in our country. They are contributing to the social and economic development of T&T.
In 2017, the Arima Race Club paid tribute to a number of sports personalities such as Larry Hilary Gomes, a former West Indies Test batting great, Charlie Joseph, a former top T&T international sprinter, veteran journalists Jones P Maderia, Neil Giuseppi and Keith Subero, former PNM general secretary Ashton Ford and Edmond DeFreitas, a former horse trainer and owner, who all had races named after them.
Winners of each race received a trophy from the named sponsor.
Robert Bernard is the new ARC president.