Left alone to die, deep in the bushes of Falmouth, Trelawny, a former racehorse recently renamed George or Usain Bolt was rescued from certain death by a young woman who refused to turn a blind eye to the animal’s suffering.

 These days he receives plenty of love and care from his new owner, Julie, but a battle with cellulitis in one of his legs continues to put the animal’s life and health at risk.

The plight of the noble equine, however, speaks to larger issues, which we should be flushed with shame to ignore.  Firstly, we must ask the obvious question, how can we in good conscience allow such gentle creatures to be used and discarded in such a manner? But secondly, there clearly needs to be an inquiry into circumstances that have reportedly led to an increase in these life-threatening leg injuries at the island’s major racetrack, Caymanas Park, which makes it more likely for animals to end up in this or similar circumstances.

The disease afflicting George stems from a bacterial infection of the soft connective tissues under the skin, and it causes sudden, extreme swelling in the affected area—often in a leg. The disease is fairly common in horses, but on a recent occasion, George's leg had tripled in size overnight, which was terrifying especially because it causes lameness.

Lameness and infections can also be caused by a fracture in a horse’s leg.  Earlier this year former member of parliament and noted veterinarian Dr St Aubyn Bartlett called for a forensic audit into what he believed was a concerning increase in the number of leg fractures suffered by animals at Caymanas.

“We have to go right around, because I don’t think it is a matter of necessarily the track surface, but our track surface could have some impact,” Bartlett told the Gleaner in January.

 In a recent piece published in August 2020 titled, ‘Work to be done on Caymanas track’ Chairman of Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), Solomon Sharpe, explained that the surface at the facility was, at the moment, overdue to be repaired. 

According to Sharp the surface was typically repaired every six months, but the COVID-19 pandemic, the unavailability of equipment and other factors had led to a delay in the process.  In the same piece, Anthony ‘Baba’ Nunes a champion trainer, however, opined that grading should ideally be done 'almost every two to three weeks'.

While there is yet to be an established correlation, it seems more consistent repairs would remove a potentially causative factor from the equation and could lead to fewer instances where animals are put down or abandoned.  As for George, he remains far from out of the woods.

The Montego Bay Animal Haven recently thanked Dr. Sophia Ramlal, a veterinary surgeon for over 20 years, who ensures the wellbeing of the horses at Caymanas, for helping the stricken George.

This is the sad, but very real story about a lot of racehorses [but] his is different because a young lady found him. Way up in the bush, way off the beaten track, and she called me, begging for help,” the non-profit organisation said.

He has been battling the infection for a year now.  Some days are good and others are far from it. Inaccessible medication plus the lack of knowledge about the disease is preventing him from completely recovering. The Montego Bay Animal Haven said in a recent, touching post, “last night he was rushed off to @watessporthorses [Wates Sport Horses] where I promise you, if they hadn’t come, he would be in horse heaven by now.”

“We just don’t have the facilities or honestly, the knowledge to handle this. The same young lady who found him looks after and feeds him every day, rushed off at silly o’clock this morning, through a storm, pouring rain, to meet @hiprosupercentre [Hi-Pro Supercentre] in Kingston, three hours away, to get the meds needed to keep him alive.”

 The recent update  encouraged donations for George at https://www.montegobayanimalhaven.com/donate but says though he is receiving great care from Dr. Denise Cole and Dr. Sophia Ramlal, they are “not sure he will make it.”

 

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

 

Correction

SportsMax.tv would like to apologise for wrongly attributing quotes in the previous version of this article to Chairman of Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), Solomon Sharpe.  We deeply regret the error and any harm that may have resulted.

We would also like to categorically state that it was not our intention to suggest a direct correlation between the state of the surface at the Caymanas racetrack and equine injury. 

We accept that the issue is complex and multi-faceted and merely intended it to be analytically viewed as part of a long list of potential factors that could be at the centre of the issue.

 

 

Leading jockey Dane Nelson produced an aggressive ride that powered the Fillies Guineas winner and big favourite Above and Beyond to an arduous win over rival Another Affair in Saturday’s Jamaica Oaks at Caymanas Park.

Above and Beyond, the 1-2 favourite, only surged to the front in the final strides of the JA$2.5 Million (US$16,800) Classic and won by a half-length over the 6-1 bet Another Affair while becoming the first horse in 11 years to complete the Fillies Guineas and Oaks double. 

The chestnut filly, by Blue Pepsi Lodge out of Rumble, also logged the fastest Oaks winning time for the 10-furlong trip in almost 30 years, stopping the clock at two minutes 06.80 seconds for champion trainer Anthony Nunes. “What a horse race,” Nunes said moments after securing his fourth Oaks triumph.

“Another Affair ran brilliantly. She bounced out of that gate from early and Dane (Nelson) had no choice but to turn into a 10-furlong sprint. Dane did a fantastic job as he always does,” added Nunes, celebrating his 23rd Classic success.

Beaten 6-1/4 lengths into second spot by Above and Beyond in the Guineas a month ago, Another Affair was sent to lead by jockey Robert Halledeen from post-position one, while Above and Beyond from the nine-box approached the first turn in close touch with the trio of Shepanza (3-1) and the outsiders Adore Brilliance (34-1) and Basilicus (60-1) in a cluster two lengths behind.

Another Affair still led mid-race with Above and Beyond at her girth, with Shepanza 2-1/2 lengths further back struggling to keep pace as Nunes’s 16-1 bet Glock quickened in fourth to chase the leaders.

Another Affair accelerated approaching the three-furlong marker and in a flash threateningly kicked two lengths clear of Above and Beyond as Nelson urged the big filly to close the gap.

Posting solid splits of 24.2, 49.1 and 1:12.3 for six furlongs before breezing the mile split in 1:38.4, Another Affair was still running stoutly into the homestretch and appeared very unwilling to relinquish her lead to the Guineas champion.

Nelson, who won four races on Saturday’s card, had already gone for the whip right-handed coming off the final bend but was only closing mildly and didn’t appear to be closing fast enough either when he changed his hold and switched to left-hand whipping heading into the last furlong.

Another Affair began her surrender deep inside the last furlong as the classy Above and Beyond – under Nelson’s vigorous handling -- incrementally wore her down and became the first filly since Saint Cecelia in 2009 to land both the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks.

The win was Above and Beyond’s fourth in eight career starts for owners Rawdon Persad, Vickram Oditt & Rajendra Poonai and gave the 36-year-old Nelson his second Oaks triumph. Her win was the fastest in the Oaks since Godwin Bucknor’s Poorlittlerichgirl won the 1991 edition in the same time.

Nunes, who landed a triple on the 10-race card, also won the co-feature JA$1.5 Million (US$10,000) Bonnie Blue Flag Trophy race with his four-year-old gelding Toona Ciliata snapping the outstanding three-year-old colt Wow Wow’s 11-race winning streak.

The 2-1 bet Toona Ciliata, ridden by Omar Walker, sped to a dominant five-length victory to be undefeated in three starts this year, posting a smart 1:53.60 for nine furlongs and 25 yards.  Wow Wow, the 1-2 favourite, finished second.

Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL) will be allowed to recover operational costs racked up by the promotions company during the COVID19-related shutdown, from race purses under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with industry regulators.

Supreme Ventures Racing & Entertainment Limited (SVREL) has announced the immediate shuttering of all racing operations, which includes racing at Caymanas Park and the island’s massive network of OTB operators.

The move comes at the end of a week that has seen mixed signals coming from the organisation on the continuation of horseracing, as the battle to contain the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak turmoil on the global sporting landscape.  Last week, the SVREL had announced that its operations would be closed but reopened them the next day and has now closed them again.

According to communication released by the SVREL, after closing operations in line with the Disaster Risk Management Declaration of Disaster Order 2020, they were given the go-ahead to re-open operations.  The Betting Gaming and Lotteries chairman rescinded the shutdown order the following day, but it seems not everyone was on the same page as the company claims it faced some amount of disruptions in its operations.

“SVREL in cooperation with the BGLC and the relevant authorities immediately shut down operations as per Disaster Risk Management Declaration of Disaster Order 2020. The company was then given the go-ahead to re-open operations and the OTB network on Thursday, March 19th, after the BGLC Chairman announced a retraction of the notice on Wednesday, March 18th,” the release explained.

“Unfortunately, operations were again affected during spectator less racing on Saturday, March 21st. Police shut down several OTB operations across the country, including Charles’s OTB in Mandeville which was padlocked, effectively shutting out both the owners and customers,” it continued.

 “While we have tried to cooperate fully with the orders as we understand them, the situation has become untenable. Based on the feedback coming from our retailers the security forces seem to be unclear regarding the position of the regulator. We cannot put our OTB network at risk for fines, imprisonment, shutdowns, and unnecessary spend.”

The track is expected to continue housing and sheltering horses with all personnel required for those purposes mandated to adhere to social distancing and other required public health protocols.

The weekend race meets at Cayamanas Park has been canceled due to fears over the spread of the Coronavirus.  Chairman of Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited Soloman Sharpe insists the organization will watch the situation day by day.

In a surprising turn of events, Supreme Soul has been cleared of having tick virus marker after a recent test was administered.  The horse has been stranded in the United States since December.

Noted trainer Antony ‘Baba’ Nunes has strongly reprimanded the Jamaica Veterinary Services Division for treatment meted out to Triple Crown winner Supreme Soul who remains quarantined in the United States.

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