By Neto Baptiste
Competitive horse racing returned to the Cassada Gardens Race Track for the first time since June 2019 when, on Sunday, the Antigua Turf Club (ATC) staged its Back to the Races meet which featured five races at the renovated venue.
A total of 10 horses took part in the meet with two competing in each race in front of what turf club president, Neil Cochrane, said was a pleasing turnout of spectators.
“We hadn’t put a whole lot of marketing into it happening, just about four days or so, and normally we would have done double that, but signs of the time. We have social media, we have the radio sports programmes and so word of mouth got around. It was really pleasing to see the people come out and we definitely know we had a good start and a good foundation on which to build,” he said.
Leche D Baba, an offspring of Fresh Milk, started the day off right with victory in a four-furlong race ahead of Zury over 5.5 furlongs.
Popular thoroughbred Syrian Soca captured race number three ahead of Chief of Staff in a six-furlong contest with Unruly Union taking race number four ahead of Tanya over six furlongs. The fifth and final race of the day which was contested over 5.5 furlongs, was captured by Zaragoza in 56.04 seconds. Lynn’s Image was second.
Cochrane was pleased with the quality of races, despite the low number of horses.
“To be honest, the last time we raced was June 27, 2019, and when you look at what was yesterday [Sunday], it was February 27, 2022 and between that time you could have had horses born, raised and ready to exercise and race within that particular time period, but we are sticking on the date of June 27 and the 27th of February,” he said.
Meanwhile, horse owner and a member of the turf club, Dwayne Thwaites, expressed relief at being able to finally race.
“When you’re accustomed to being out there racing, and then you have a two-and-a-half year hiatus, coming back into it you do get a little bit nervous inside, so since the night before going into the morning, even if you had called me and said ‘Hi, Baba,’ I would have gotten really nervous. We just had to pull this one off,” he said.
The next race meet will be held on March 27.