GENERAL MANAGER of Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL) Lorna Gooden said the local racing industry made significant strides in 2021 despite the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Gooden told The Gleaner that the COVID-19 pandemic had affected the company’s operations significantly throughout 2021, but that a number of innovations helped keep the racing industry from closing down.
“2021 was a growth year in more than one sense,” said Gooden.
“We grew the participation of the horsemen by the type of racing that we were offering them because their participation in the cards grew year after year.
“We also grew the participation of the punters based on the products that we offered to them,” she said.
“The Reggae6 comes to mind, the Ketch9 and the mandatory payout and jackpot payout that we offered during the year. We also grew the brand identification across the Caribbean, across North America, by expanding into other locations,” Gooden said.
Still, curfews and lockdowns in 2021 did no ends of damage to SVREL’s bottom line when you consider how much the organisation lost from the unavailability of simulcast racing during those periods.
“It was also a challenging year because we had to contend with the shutdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gooden.
“There were no-movement days curfew hours, which impacted our operations and revenue significantly,” she said.
“But all in all we, would say that we came out on the better end because we see the trajectory that we are on, we see the growth and we see the relationships improving between us, the punters, the horsemen, and we are just poised to doing better things in 2022,” she said.
COULD REACH A DEAL
SVREL and The United Racehorse Trainers Association (UTRA) could reach a deal on a purse increase in the first quarter of this year after negotiations began in earnest in December.
A $100-million purse increase was made in 2017 when SVREL took over the operations at Caymanas Park.
Also in 2021, the SVREL and the Kisero Group launched a Caribbean Pool after signing an agreement with the Arima Race Club in Trinidad.
The Caribbean Pool is an inter-island commingling platform that allows for Caribbean Tote operators to bet into each other.
The work on the construction of a brand new digital tote board at Caymanas Park also made it to an advanced stage in 2021 and is scheduled to be completed at the end of this month.
A tote board is an easily identifiable numeric or alphanumeric display that is used to provide race-day information, including payouts, results and odds for each horse in a race.
The old tote board was decommissioned in February last year. It has been at the facility for more than 30 years and has been out of service since August 2019.
The digital screen along with the construction of the base is expecting to cost upward of $100 million.
On the track, it was a very successful year for trainer Anthony ‘Baba’ Nunes after he captured his third consecutive trainer’s title ahead of rival, Jason DaCosta.
Champion jockey Anthony Thomas also captured his third jockey’s championship with 112 wins last season.
Carlton Watson won the owners championship ahead of Elizabeth daCosta while Ham Stables were crowned the champion breeders ahead of Y.S. (1955) Ltd. Tefara Wright was the 2021 champion groom, finishing ahead of Leon Walker.