The 2012 edition of the Stud Farm Association Yearling Sales has been brought forward to October 28. This sale which was traditionally held towards the end of November in each year was controversially brought forward, possibly in an attempt to garner a greater share of the purchasers’ market. This event has historically competed with the Yearling Sales in Jamaica which is also held during the month of November and organisers must be of the view that it is better to precede that sale rather than follow it. While there is some merit to that argument, the backward nature of the Trinidad thoroughbred suggests that the loss of a month in preparation could seriously affect the appearance of the final product in the sales ring and result in some diminution of value. While price might not be affected significantly, there is a risk that the animal’s development would have been negatively affected as vendors reduce the time spent by their yearlings developing in the open pastures. The skill of the vendors will therefore be paramount in balancing these twin objectives. Notwithstanding the negatives associated with the earlier date of the sale, there is a considerable amount to look forward to. The increase in races framed for horses bred in T&T has identified a path for breeders and owners of locally bred animals that previously did not exist. Additionally, the framing of the first ever T&T Breeders’ Classic with a rich prize money structure provides a great incentive for owners to invest in local bloodstock. If ever there was a time to invest in the local breeding sector, now is the time. There has also been a marked improvement in the calibre of stallion on offer to local breeders with the result being that we are seeing a greater spread of quality runners sired by different animals.
In the past, if you were unable to secure a Bandsman, a Freshly Squeezed or more recently, one of the few A Great Teams on offer, you were better off investing in a Jamaican bloodline. Over the last two years, however, we have seen the emergence of quality runners sired by the likes of Western Envoy, Big Country, Settle Up, Babel and Precise Sweep. If we add to this list new sires such as Louisville Luminary, Maraahel, Charismatic Cat, Gold Market, Moygaddy, Storms Past and Ten Meropa, whose offsprings have yet to race locally, local racing could be in for some very exciting times. The excitement at this point in time is building because the full list of horses that will be available for sale has not yet been released by the Stud Farm Association. This is something that should be completed and published as soon as possible. Once this is complete, Stud Farms can then plan their Open Day to invite prospective purchasers to visit and have a closer look at the horses that will be coming up for sale. The Stud Farm Association also needs to begin marketing their sales to other countries in the Caribbean. In the past, the local sale has been a viable venue for buyers from Guyana and this should continued. Given the different racing surface, Barbados will always be a challenge for owners interested in racing horses though with foals from the proven turf sire Maraahel, there could be some animals of interest from buyers in that country. The SFA should certainly consider extending their marketing efforts to that country. Outside of the upcoming sales, the other item of interest is the recent announcement by the Arima Race Club (ARC) that the 2011 edition of the Jetsam Awards will be held at the Santa Rosa Park (yes the racetrack ) in August.
These awards have been delayed for more than three months as the Boogie Blues imbroglio unfolded. It is somewhat disappointing for the club to decide to host the event at the track and one is left to query the wisdom of that decision.
When the event was pitched to sponsors, it was done so on the basis of an upscale awards function to be hosted, as in prior years, at the Movietowne Banquet Hall. In fact, tickets were to be sold in order to assist the funding for the event, and in some cases, certain companies may or may not have purchased tickets on the basis of the event being a gala ceremony, as it should be. It is possible that the owner of Movietowne, who is also the owner of Boogie Blues, has been ignored because of talk of possible legal action over the disqualification of Boogie Blues from the 2011 Gold Cup because it cannot be that persons at Movietowne have blocked the re-use of that facility. Even if that was the case, there are other alternative venues if the intention was to retain the prestige associated with the event. The Pink Paper awards were recently held at the racetrack and if that is what the Jetsam Awards have been reduced to, the ARC may have difficulty in retaining their sponsors for this year and/or securing sponsors for future years. While everyone can understand, the necessity to stage the Jetsam Awards, the environment that has been selected for this supposedly premier event is tantamount to throwing racing significance to the dogs. It also tells the story of an administration that allowed this matter to drag out too far. The end result is that the 2011 Jetsam Awards has been devalued and this decision should be revisited, if horseracing wants to keep its dignity. It should never be too late, to change a bad idea, especially when it is obvious to almost 95 per cent of the horseracing population.
Can anyone imagine, this sort of action in any other sport in this country, for instance cricket throwing their awards, during a league match at the Couva office in Bahrain? Or perhaps football throwing their award ceremony at a Super League match in St Ann’s? Yes...I know ...St Ann’s ....this all sounds like real madness. By the way, Madness was a good horse and Joe Hadeed, the trainer and I hasten to say that under Hadeed, this madness with the Jetsam Awards would not have been contemplated much less implemented. This is an opportunity to restore some faith in horseracing and with a new minister of trade, efforts should have been made to remind him just how great and important this sport is. Instead, given the current upheavals, disagreement and acrimony that prevail, it would not surprise me if Minister Vasant Bharath finds an excuse to absent himself from this watered-down edition of the Jetsam Awards at Santa Rosa Park, Arima.
Finally, there was a very interesting development at the racetrack two Saturdays ago (June 30) and I must admit, that I did not notice it, but an erstwhile and caring racing patron brought it to my attention. In race No 7, for three-year-old and over horses rated 90 and over, racehorse Montejo (rated 119 at the time) was asked to carry a racing weight of 58.5kg, two kilos above the maximum allotable weight of 56.5kg. No explanation has been put forward by the ARC for this apparent anomaly and it remains to be seen if this becomes a new norm in racing in Trinidad. As far as this journalist understands, the weight for age scale applicable to handicaps set a maximum and minimum allotted weight. If this scale has been revised, the ARC should advise all parties. Anything less, would be downright unfair and may be even illegal, as it contravenes the rules of racing, so clearly documented. The message is obvious, the ARC has a lot of work to do so as to convince people that horseracing can grow and return itself to some pride and glory. At the moment, it appears as if the horseracing patrons care more about the success of the horseracing product than the administrators.