Turf confusion prompts talk of change
THE UNCERTAINTY of racing on the Santa Rosa Park turf track, is once more causing discomfort among horsemen, and the promoters, Arima Race Club (ARC), are being blamed for horses, who had main track only entry, not being able to participate in the $200,000 Bernard Dulal-Whiteway Independence Cup, although the race was moved from the turf to the main course.
Stakeholders are now proposing changes to turf racing conditions.
Reached for a comment yesterday, ARC’s chief executive officer Chris Armond said, “since the race was a nomination race, we tried to have it run off on the turf.”
He explained: “Normally the stewards finalise the race programme two hours before post time, and at the two-hour time, we had left the race on the turf, as we had discussions with the jockeys although the track was soft. But they decided to ride on it. And then the rain came down, track was waterlogged and the race was moved.”
He pointed out: “It is unfortunate, but we will be having discussions with trainers and owners, so that a system could be implemented, when we have main and turf entry on the turf track.”
However, Dr David Kangaloo, whose brother, the late Justice Wendell Kangaloo’s horse Golden Dixieland was not allowed to take part in the race although it was declared to run on the main track said, “the ROA must issue a strong statement to clear the air on turf racing. Other horsemen (jockeys, trainers and grooms) benefit regardless of where the race is run. The authority of the day has very little concern for owners. It is always a struggle for owners, and when they get an increase, everybody wants an increase, and this is a double whammy.
“I am certain Wendell would have been distressed with the comedy of errors regarding his horse, who would have been the favourite to win the race on the main track and was not given the opportunity to run.”
Baskaran Bassawh, president of the Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) responded: “It is something we have been complaining about because it causes too much confusion.”
He said further: “I spoke to Chris Armond (on the raceday), who stated the club was trying to run the race on the turf because nominations were paid, which we accepted, but at that time the track was not raceable.
“What I am suggesting, what sense it makes, when you have turf and main track entries. Let us take out that, and leave it open. It gives trainers and owners the option to scratch their horses an hour before. Owners and trainers must be given a chance to scratch their horses.”
Bassawh continued: “This thing about declaration at 10.00 a.m. makes no sense. We are entering horses to run. If the condition does not suit my horse, the trainer has the right to scratch it, and the steward has no right to fine him.”
Dr Kangaloo noted further: “Something is definitely wrong with the system, and the first mistake they made (was) denying Golden Dixieland to get lasix, and the stewards could have made that decision. Everyone knew the track was waterlogged from the previous day.
“It is very disappointing, and it shows they did not exercise discretion in the interest of owners, and it is they, (owners) who keep the industry going and are treated with disrespect by ARC and the steward.
“Main track and turf track should be discarded totally. If a trainer believes that his horse will be unsuited by the track condition, the stewards should not penalise trainers for scratching their horses when they are entered on the turf.”
Dr Kangaloo also said the current system offers no encouragement to potential new owners.
“At no time of the day was it conclusively announced the race will be run on the turf. The club only care about the betting and not the owner.”