Caymanas closure could force huge cuts among grooms
Many of the grooms who condition horses at Caymanas Park could be out of work soon if the shutdown at the island's only race track continues.
Racing is one of the many sports locally, reeling under the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The virus and the need for social distancing forced the indefinite closure of Caymanas Park on March 21.
STAR Sports understands that of the 560 grooms that work for varying stables, 230 could be sent home if Caymanas Park continues to shut its doors.
This was revealed by a prominent trainer who spoke on condition of anonymity. He said that those involved in racing continue to lose millions per day following the shutdown of the track.
"Right now we are between a rock and a hard place. If a stable has 30 grooms, maybe 25 go home. That is how things may shape up if this thing continues much longer because funds are drying up.
"We are going to have to make a decision soon because we are in survival mode right now. If the lockdown continues, we are going to have to make some cuts because we can't afford to keep everyone, and the reality is that most stables can operate at 50 per cent."
Due to the nature of horseracing, the animals have to be in constant training, and as such, the plan is to keep some of the grooms working just for operational purposes.
Some trainers have already begun cost-cutting measures by feeding horses less due to inactivity.
The impending cuts will no doubt affect several grooms who depend directly on the income from looking after the horses.
President of the Grooms Association Fabian Whyte says he doesn't even want to think about the scenario of cuts. However, he understands that it is not business as usual at present.
"This thing is a reality and not a joke, but we know that it is expensive to keep the horses training, and if there is no racing, no money is coming in, but we have to hope for the best."
Whyte is hoping that the stakeholders can work out the best possible solution as many of the grooms who live in the neighbouring communities will not have many options if the cuts become reality.
"Everybody right now is taking a cut just to keep their jobs, so if the owners and trainers can work out something just to keep everybody working, that would be good."
More than 2,900 persons are employed in various areas at Caymanas Park, with another 1,100 employed across the 14 parishes in off -track betting parlours.