The rescheduled Day 6 of the Arima Race Club (ARC) 2021 racing season is expected to take place on March 27th.
As everyone knows, Day 5 of the Season was cancelled following the decision of jockeys to withhold their services due to lack of payment.
Initially, racing was cancelled indefinitely, including the closure of the track for training purposes. Following discussions, it appears that the jockeys have agreed to ride – through the concession made by the ARC is not readily known. Notwithstanding these discussions, the decision was taken to postpone the originally scheduled Day 6 from March 20th to March 27th. According to the index, Day 7 remains scheduled for April 3rd (Glorious Saturday – could be a mistake and really intended for April 5th) and Day 8th for April 24th.
It is difficult to know what to make of any revised arrangements put in place between the jockeys and the ARC management. Promises to pay are many times difficult to implement and while arrears can sometimes be cleared, this is usually only possible at the expense of other liabilities, in the absence of any sustainable source of revenue. With cheques reportedly being returned by their bankers, it would leap of faith to believe that the ARC has identified a sustainable source of revenue.
The result of this would really be a postponement of another impasse between the Club and some of its stakeholders.
One is left to wonder what the Club’s response would be should owners and trainers, who are also owed substantial amounts, decide to also withdraw their enthusiasm. While this would no doubt be a self-defeating move by those involved, one is left to wonder if it is a worse outcome than a cessation of the sport sooner rather than later. From the perspective of the owners, it will expedite the disposal of any racing/breeding stock and termination of expenses for which there is no opportunity for either enjoyment or financial return. Outside of the ARC which might be incurring losses every race day, owners are incurring expenses every month and in many cases, due to the framing of races, being forced to race their horses on surfaces or over distances for which there is little opportunity for success and enjoyment. In the unlikely event of victory, a receivable from the ARC is created but no liquidity provided.
These owners will continue to incur expenses with no end in sight unless a decision is taken to exit the sport or the sport stops.
Given the comparative economic situation in Barbados and Jamaica, it remains something of a mystery as to why the Trinidad and Tobago racing industry is in such a state. The only explanation must lie in the difference in administration and possibly, the leadership of the sport in this country. This leadership challenge is not unique to this sport, since similar gaps are evident in many other areas of economic, political and sporting activity in this country.
It is difficult to prescribe what might be necessary to turn things around but the commencement must be a willingness by those involved to put themselves last and the interests of others first. Unfortunately, such self-lessness is in short supply.
Notwithstanding this gap, the show must go on...for now. The index for the next three days of racing have now been published and as has become the norm with the ARC, changes have been made to the conditions of races without any public statement on same.
The modified handicaps have now been extended to that horses within six points of the stated bands are now also eligible to compete (this modification was three points previously). This change becomes applicable for races to be held in April since the revised March index indicates that the tolerance level remains at three points.
An examination of the races framed indicates that over the next three race days, no races under 1,350 metres have been framed for horses rated 70 and over. Any owner with a sprinter with such a rating, will either have to race their horse over the longer distance with no chance of victory or continue sitting and waiting in the vain hope that maybe a race will be framed in May. As usual, the owner is the person taken for granted.
Over the next three race days, one race has been framed for maiden three-year-olds (native breds though, over 1,100 metres) which means that most maiden three-year-olds and West Indian bred three-year-olds, in general, will have to continue to race against their elders based on rating. Since most three-year-olds generally start rated in their 40s (with an appropriate sex allowance for the fillies), it is not surprising that the majority of races would be framed for horses rated below 50. What is surprising however is the number of turf races that have been framed for these horses. With the Triple Crown races around the corner, one would have thought that the framers would attempt to frame as many prep races for the three-year-old crop as possible given the existing constraints. This however does not appear to have been a consideration by the framers. Not surprisingly I would hasten to add.
It has really beggared belief that racing has continued this long and it remains hard to envisage racing continuing for much longer. Time will tell how long the blind belief will survive.