HORSE RACING HAS ITS OWN “SECRET” MOU

So a deal has been struck for local horseracing’s return (hopefully in June) and, after stakeholders’ protest, promoting company (SVREL) kept the track open for exercise in the interim.

Hip, hip…………wait a minute! What exactly was the deal? Who agreed to what? The terms of the deal are subject to “confidentiality” clauses agreed among signatories to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), dated May 11, intended to resolve disputes arising from SVREL’s announced closure of the track as of May 8. After hurriedly convened closed-door meetings among stakeholders, Betting Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC)/Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC) and Project Management Committee (PMC) Government’s agent to enforce implementation of SVL/SVREL’s divestment development plan, the track stayed open.

But why keep MOU terms a deep dark secret from Jamaicans especially horseracing’s most important stakeholder (punters)? There can be nothing “confidential” about agreements made on behalf of a government-owned company Caymanas Track Limited (CTL) and two statutory bodies (JRC/BGLC). There’s nothing proprietary, patent-protected or unique in the MOU that’s inherently confidential. Furthermore, PM already made his position against non-disclosure clauses in government contracts pellucid. In responding to critique regarding non-disclosure clauses in some Petrojam contracts, he said “The Government will have to review and come to a new position regarding such agreements that have anything to do with public funds”. So the only plausible reason for including confidentiality clauses in this MOU is one or more of the parties simply don’t want you to know what they agreed to do with taxpayers’ money; stakeholders’ purses; and stakeholders’ rights.

Anyway, we’re about to take a close look at this “secret” MOU because, when it’s about horseracing, no secrets can be kept from ye olde Touty. And since YOU know I’ve YOUR interests at heart, I won’t be keeping anything regarding horseracing or betting secret from YOU.

Who signed this MOU? In the document, the parties are listed as SVREL; CTL (property owner/SVREL’s Landlord); BGLC/JRC; “Owners of Racehorses licensed by the JRC”; and the equally nebulous “Trainers of horses stabled at Caymanas Park”.

The MOU is signed by Solomon Sharpe (Chairman) and Lorna Gooden (General Manager) for SVREL; Danville Walker (Chairman; also Chairman of PMC) and Errol Robinson (CEO) for CTL; Randolph McLean for Jamaica Race Horse Owners Association (JRHOA); Howard Hamilton for Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA); Ryan Darby for United Trainers Association (UTA); Dalton Sirjue for Jamaica Racehorse Trainers Association (JRHTA); Shane Ellis for Jockeys’ Guild; Fabian White for Grooms Association; and Clovis Metcalf, JRC/BGLC Chairman, for both Commissions.

Things that make you go hmmmmmm: Breeders, jockeys and grooms aren’t named as parties so why do signatures purportedly on their behalf appear?

Two signatories require closer scrutiny.

JRC/BGLC

In my opinion, it would be a dereliction of statutory duty for JRC/BGLC to engage in negotiations as parties to any racing dispute; enter into any contract with any licensee to settle any dispute between or among licensees; and, worse, to make any contractually binding promises to that end. Regulators supervise dispute resolution processes and approve results not jump into the fray.

What would JRC/BGLC be getting in return for any promises? They’ve no skin in the game. Nothing the combatants could promise JRC/BGLC could amount to consideration for any JRC/BGLC promise.

The JRC Act empowers JRC to grant, suspend and revoke licenses; recommend government’s use of funds to assist breeding or horseracing generally; and introduce schemes for horseracing’s development. That’s it. That’s all. It regulates the sport. It doesn’t participate.

BGLC is empowered to “regulate and control” the operations of betting, gaming and lotteries and, to that end, may examine betting problems, inform and advise the Minister and conduct investigations and surveys. Getting involved in internal squabbles among licensees and making contractual promises as part of licensees’ settlement is just not on.

So what’s been promised in this “secret” MOU? Trainers who held aggressive protests on May 4 against SVREL’s imminent track closure were probably overjoyed to hear a deal struck kept the track open pending an anticipated June restart.

Eighteen-time Champion Trainer Wayne DaCosta while addressing protesters on May 4 (after accusing SVREL of using covid as an excuse for the real problem of avoidable losses): “We never asked them to take over the track. They wanted the monopoly. So they must fix it themself. They came in with top heavy management and lost millions of dollars. That’s not our fault. That’s THEIR fault. They must fix their own problem

It seems SVREL fixed its own problem. But how? As I keep telling you, nothing in this world is as it appears.

The MOU provides “Owners and Trainers” will pay the expenses of keeping the track open, assessed at $13 million per month starting May 1 by way of deductions from purses when racing resumes. This is in addition to the advertised agreed 4% purse cut which the MOU quantifies at $1.857 million per month until December 31 if racing resumes June 1 (not gonna happen) or $4.33 million PER MONTH (or $26 million in total) if racing resumes July 1.

Let’s do the math. $13 million + $13 million + $26 million = $52 MILLION. How many SVREL shares will be transferred to Stakeholders for this massive injection of working capital? Me, teacher! Zero. Zip. Nada. NONE!

Was this explained to Stakeholders at extraordinary general meetings? Was a vote of approval obtained before purporting to commit Stakeholders to paying SVREL’s expenses? Why’d THREE Government agencies (CTL/BGLC/JRC) allow stakeholders to be thrown under a convoy of buses in this callous way?

Before SVREL claims to be covid-19’s sole victim, remember “Owners and Trainers” are already wilting under keep and care expenses of approximately $20 million PER WEEK during lockdown. Now they must also bail out SVREL? Really? Seriously?

It gets worse.

Under the MOU, CTL has agreed to SIX MONTHS rent rebate (valued at $21 million) even though covid arrived March 10; racing was suspended March 31 and is projected to return in early June after TWO MONTHS’ shutdown.

But will racing resume? When? Exactly how much longer have stakeholders agreed to pay SVREL’s bills?

Under this “secret” MOU, JRC/BGLC, government regulators of horseracing/betting, specifically agreed to:

use their best endeavours to have the GOJ to permit the people gathering limits to be removed from the Caymanas Park race track and OTBs licensed by the BGLC AS A PRECONDITION TO THE RESUMPTION OF HORSE RACING AT CAYMANAS PARK (my emphasis).”

Christ on a crutch! For whom do these regulatory bodies work? WHAT ARE THEIR SOLEMN STATUTORY DUTIES? Where does public health figure? BGLC/JRC also agreed to act as “advisors….with the view to ensuring the fulfillment of this agreement.” But, by law, BGLC and JRC are “advisors” ONLY to government! They regulate SVREL!

Is who really run t’ings?

Have Stakeholders received ANYTHING in exchange for agreeing to pay for motherflicking all? What has government received? Does consideration/benefit only flow one-way in this “secret” take-and-take MOU?

On Friday, May 22, SVREL issued the following to stakeholders:

Effective Saturday, May 23, 2020, the pool will now be open on Saturday from 5:00 am to 10:00 am.

The track will continue to be open Mondays to Saturdays and closed on Sunday’s and the pool also closed on Sundays.

On Monday May 25, 2020, only, the track will be open from 7:00 am to 10:00 am. Please note only light work is recommended on Monday as the track may not have the desired moisture as preparation will stop at 3 pm on Sunday due to the curfew.

Persons such as agents and clocker previously prohibited from morning exercise will now be allowed at the track, however, not on the trainers stands for social distancing reasons.

All persons should cover their mouth and nose…. All other social distancing guidelines should be followed. As we are aiming to show we are ready to reopen under MOHW guidelines…..”

But the MOU puts the onus on government/BGLC/JRC to have “MOHW guidelines” lifted or there’ll be no racing. That’s unlikely to happen before a vaccine is available. For THIS stakeholders agreed to pay $52 MILLION? And CTL another $21 million?

Since stakeholders are paying promoter’s expenses, shouldn’t government hand the track to them to operate and earn profits? Which investor will buy a multi-million dollar yearling so its earnings can help pay SVREL’s expenses? Who’ll be endangering health of self and family by entering crowded OTBs or visiting a track with frenzied multitudes loudly and recklessly chasing losses?

Worldwide, sports are gradually returning before empty stands. Not at Caymanas Park where Goodman’s Law applies. Don’t ask if it’s about the money. It’s ALWAYS about the money. And, of course, Goodman’s subsidiary legislation: it’s always best if you can spend other peoples’ money.

Good Luck!

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One Response to “HORSE RACING HAS ITS OWN “SECRET” MOU”

  1. Bluff, Double Bluff And Bluster – Public Opinion Says:

    […] thought they had agreed to a 4% purse cut. Obviously they hadn’t read my Blog post of May 23 (see https://theterribletout.wordpress.com/2020/05/23/horse-racing-has-its-own-secret-mou/) which exposed a “confidential” MOU agreed among the Promoter; its parent company; the […]

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