Records and milestones at Caymanas Park over 60 years


Records and milestones at Caymanas Park over 60 years

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

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As the racing community prepares to celebrate 60 years of horse racing at Caymanas Park on Saturday next (August 24), The Supreme Racing Guide reminds readers of some of the records and major milestones achieved at the home of racing in Jamaica.


On Saturday, August 22, 1959 the first race was run at Caymanas Park over six furlongs (1,200 metres).

The winner was Roman Road ridden by Barrington Smith and trained by Owen Silvera. Queen of Sheba with the legendary Arthur Jones in the saddle finished second.


In 1970 for the first and only time there was a dead-heat involving two jockeys, Panamanian Jose “Juicy” Bravo and Richard DePass for the jockeys' championship.

Bravo and DePass finished with 53 wins each but for DePass getting to that magical number was particularly difficult as in the very last race of the year on Boxing Day, 1970, DePass was one behind Bravo.

Riding the Eileen Cliggott-trained Wally Gold as if his life depended on winning, DePass held on desperately from the fast-finishing favourite High Dish with Don McKenzie in the saddle in a 7 furlongs event, eventually holding on by a short head to claim the victory.


After winning the Jamaica Derby in 1971, the elegantly bred Reprieve (Zaleucus – Caroline Park) trained by Aston Cammock and owned by the at-the-time well-known owning pair of Dr Victor Magnus and J W “Judge” Hardie was considered a cinch to win the final Classic of the year, the Jamaica St Leger.

What happened next has become part of the glorious history of Caymanas Park. There were no rivals in the St Leger for Reprieve to run against as all six of the six probably starters were absent — scratched.

Based then on the applicable Rule of Racing, Reprieve had to complete five furlongs to claim the purse of the St Leger.

Coming down the five-straight course, Reprieve and DePass did what the rule required and became a double Classic race winner.

There has not been a Classic walkover since then.


There were several times that racing at Caymanas Park had to be halted over the 60 years of its storied existence. Some of these shutdowns were due to the forces of nature while others were man-made.

September 12, 1988 brought Hurricane Gilbert to the shores of Jamaica and with it came untold devastation that affected all the country.

Caymanas Park felt the force of Gilbert causing racing to be shut down for just over two months.

Then there was the equine virus outbreak close to the end of the racing year in 1989. Racing was under siege as evidenced by a shutdown of close to three months.

The longest period that there were no races run at Caymanas Park came in 1973 when one of the poles that supported the cantilever roof of the stands gave way with urging from what was described then as a freak storm.

Racing, because of this structural failure, was suspended for three-and-a-half months, which is the longest period racing has been absent at Caymanas Park.


Kenneth Mattis during his time in the saddle was regarded as one of racing's top heavyweight jockeys and his association with the great None Such has reached legendary status.

Mattis then shifted from the pigskin to become a trainer and in the latter field, he was even more successful. “Kiddie” as he was popularly known was associated with several outstanding thoroughbreds but none more so than Legal Light regarded by most as the greatest to ever place hoofs on the track at Caymanas Park and, of course, Royal Dad.

Mattis is the only horseman to be inducted twice into Jamaica's Hall of Fame of thoroughbred racing — first as a jockey and then as a trainer.

Mattis now deceased, fittingly, has a race named in his honour.


Saturday, November 20, 1993 will forever be etched in the glorified annals of local horse racing.

It was the moment in time when jockey Andrew “Narry” Ramgeet won eight races during a single race day to become the only rider to achieve this amazing feat up to this day.

Ramgeet had 10 rides on the November 20 card and proceeded to win on Azari, Beau Saint, She's On Wheels, Keino, Birthday Boy, Little Dragon, Foregone Conclusion and Royal Gator.

Interestingly, Ramgeet on his other two mounts, finished second and third.

Many pundits believe that Ramgeet's accomplishment is the greatest ever at Caymanas Park.


Jockey Trevor “Slicer” Simpson, a former many-times champion rider known for his swashbuckling style of riding and his titanic battles with Joseph Buchanan got into the history books in 2002 by riding the most winners in a single season by any jockey in Jamaica.

Simpson was atop 172 winners in 2002 thereby overturning the previous mark of 167 established 28 years before by George HoSang. Simpson achieved his record feat from 571 rides.


An apprentice in 1992 under the watchful eyes of her apprentice master — the late trainer Eileen Cliggott — Azel Cowie became the first female jockey to ride a winner at an official race meet at Caymanas Park.

Cowie created her special piece of history on January 25, 1992 on the Cliggott trained Heartease in a 6 furlong contest. Cowie went on to win 14 more races from approximately 290 rides in what turned out to be a brief career. She now resides abroad.

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