The resumption of local racing looks questionable, even though the Arima Race Club (ARC) is putting things in place for a resumption behind closed doors on Labour Day - June 19, that is, if the government gives the green light for the ARC to proceed and all the protocols which are necessary from the Ministry of Health are put in place.
However, another approval must be sourced by the ARC and that is the approval by the T&T Racing Authority (TTRA), which is chaired by Dr David Kangaloo. The TTRA must approve the race day and the undertaking will vary against the rules of racing.
For racing to resume on June 19, the ARC must receive approval from the TTRA, as in this case there will be a variation from the rules of racing. The TTRA has the power to amend the rules as needed.
On Wednesday, chairman of the TTRA Kangaloo told Guardian Media Sports that, "After I heard the Minister of Health Terrance Deyalsingh speak at the news briefing two days ago when a reporter asked about the horse racing, I don't think that June 19, is not a feasible day. The Minister has made it clear that horse racing like all other sports may be opened up in Phase three of the plan. At this moment we are not even out of Phase two. "
The TTRA boss went on to state, that the provisional programme for the day has not been received by him or his office. This is normally due six weeks in advance but on many occasions, we have bent backwards to accommodate the ARC, as it comes to racing. But from my standpoint, I don't think racing can resume on Labour Day."
Only recently, in an interview Minister of Trade Paula Gopee-Scoon stated that for racing to survive all stakeholders need to work together. Co-operation is the key to bringing local racing to were it was or close to those of the glory days.
Guardian Media Sports also spoke to the chairman of the Betting Levy Board (BLB), Linford Carrabon, as to the resumption of racing and he, like the TTRA chairman, does not think racing should begin without the private betting shops being opened.
He said, "The racing industry should be all-inclusive with all the stakeholder playing their part in the Sport of Kings. We need all hands on deck for success and it is a well-known fact that without the private betting shops, we cannot run local racing. Local racing is dependent on betting shops.
"The BLB has the responsibility for collecting taxes from the private bookmakers and the ARC. The taxes belong to the government of T&T. Therefore without the betting shops opening in tandem with the local racing, racing will not be viable. Clearly, we will not have the necessary funds to fuel racing. In this case, the BLB is the Ministry of Finance for racing. No revenue means more debt will be incurred."
What is very important to note is that the staff of the BLB and the TTRA are all government workers and must be paid, their salaries.
The knowledgeable Carrabon intimated, "Horse racing in Trinidad has not made a profit for the past 10 years. Changes were made in 2015, 2016 to reduce the overhead cost of managing ARC, resulting in a small cash surplus in 2017. However, since then the club has debt has been escalating.
"The racing game is plagued by more and more competition. We have got to understand that horse racing is a very small fraternity. The betting market is small. That means only a very small percentage of the country gravitates towards racing. Hence, the volume of betting in the market. We all must understand that racing alone cannot make it.
"Local racing must be run like a business. That I why I said that the structure of management must change and we must have professional personnel who will manage the operation, as a business venture.
When asked what can be done to assist racing he said, "From the looks of this, we owe the government of T&T a great deal of money, so we need the government to write off that money which is money owed from betting, which is 50 per cent of the taxes. We need another financial favour from the government.
"The local racing industry needs major capital investment and finally, we need administrative racing to revamp. Based on everything in front of us and how much money is owed to the government, it may well mean that government should begin to manage racing, as it is the government who clearly will have to foot the bills."