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#421764 - 11/12/11 02:22 PM Horsing Around With Politics
Marty Offline
In the sports world, it's said that horse-racing is the sport of Kings. Well, in Belize, we don't have Kings, or Princes, all we have are politicians - and they're the ones who seem to be battling for control of a Cayo racetrack.

Like all things involving politics there are two, possibly three sides to the story - but for the average race-fan, all they want to know is whether there'll be horse racing in Cayo a week from Sunday.

As I found out in Cayo yesterday, it's a question to which there are no easy answers.

Jim McFadzean Reporting
The showdown was sparked when the President of the Peter August Horse Racing Club, Alejandro Rodriguez received a letter from Area Representative, Honorable Rene Montero informing him that his club is not authorized to use the Race Track for scheduled races on November 20th, reminding Rodriguez that there exists only one legally registered Jockey Club Committee by the National Sports Council.

Alejandro Rodriguez
"First, we registered at Belmopan`- that was the Twin Town Jockey Club and behind us they came to register another club because we had not break up that committee` either, so they went behind us."

Hon. Rene Montero
"As far as I am aware and legally we can only have one registered Jockey Club, we cannot have two. What I did when the current chairman Mr. Lindberth Tate approach me and ask me to intervene in this situation because literally he had been trying to dialogue with them and them refusing to talk to him he came and ask me to intervene and all I did is write a letter to Mr. Rodriguez applauding him for interest in the sports of horseracing and I ask him in writing to come to me so that we can have a meeting so that we can pool our resources and move the sports of horseracing forward. But he choose to do otherwise."

The club that Rodriguez accuses the Minister of replacing theirs with is known as the Cayo Belmont Jockey Club; it was registered a little over a year ago. Its President, Lindberth Tate says before Rodriguez and his club can hold any race at the track it would require the dissolution of his legally registered one, something he is not prepared to do.

Lindberth Tate, President - Cayo Belmont Jockey Club
"First of all I only know of one registered Cay Belmont Jockey club and no one came to me and speak to me about dissolving this club so that they could form another club."

Jim McFadzean
"So you are saying that there could only be one club to conduct races at this track?"

Lindberth Tate
"One club to conduct races and if the club is not active then you could form another club. But this Jockey Club was active. My last race was in July here at the stadium. The rail that was up - they torn down everything, they form their own committee. No one came to me to try to dissolve this committee and form a new one."

The news of the race's cancellation triggered a volley of accusations from members of Rodriguez's club, that Montero was mixing politics with sports. The horse owners we interviewed say Montero's timing less than two weeks before the race was insensitive considering that they have been preparing both horses, and horse track which involved money and quite a bit of human resources.

Steven Valencia, Race Horse Owner
"Everybody put in a lot to train their horses and by training your horse it takes a lot of time and money. Even the kids who we have training the horses it takes a lot of their time doing all of that and then they cancel a race. It's always hard for the horse owners."

Race Horse Owner
"When we prepare for a race, we prepare the horse - it costs us food every week. So for a race it's like 4 weeks or like a month and a half. That a expense you go through all the way up to a race. You got to feed the horse and pay the rider to train the horse and guys to clean up the horse. "

Jim McFadzean
"So there is sort of special training involved leading up to a race. That's what you are saying?"

Race Horse Owner
"Yes, you have to prepare the horse for that day."

Montero denies that the letter had anything to do with politics, saying it was the other way around, suggesting that it was a group of PUP supporters that were making problems for the sport. And indeed, it didn't go un-noticed by our cameras the presence of high profile PUP aspirants including Ramon Quiroz the PUP aspiring Mayor for San Ignacio/Santa Elena and Cayo Central Standard Bearer Collet Montejo.

Javier Guiterrez, Former Horse Racing Club Chairman
"It looks like a PUP rally if you may say Jim. Unfortunately you mention to me to be honest as to if its political or not. Truthfully I love sports. I've been involved in sports in my district and my town. For a lot of years I was a chairman of the sports council but what happens here - you interviewed a gentleman by the name of Mr. Rodriguez, this little man is one of the town's first horse racing pioneers and they loved this sport. This stadium was built by Dan Silva along with Dito Juan when he was a minister of the UDP as well."

"At that time Mr. Rene Montero was a member of the committee for racing in this town. The reason why Mr. Montero through that letter that you have - the Jockey committee that was called, why he gave that letter Jim I don't know."

Jim McFadzean
"Should the letter have come from you or Mr. Tate cancelling the November 20th scheduled race?"

Hon. Rene Montero
"I did that carefully. If you read the letter properly I told them that they do not have the authority to conduct their race but unless they come and dialogue with the current Jockey committee and myself. I just tell them point blank that they cannot have it. I tell them lets dialogue and see how we can move this issue forward."

Jim McFadzean
"Minister Montero, your letter says this letter is to inform you that you are not authorized to use the race track. Essentially that means that they have no alternative than to cancel that race. They claim and they've showed me a flyer advertising this race and also claim to have advertisements in the media regarding the schedule race for November 20th. "

Hon. Rene Montero
"Yes but I don't want to make this a political issue but these fellows are arrogant. Who is in power right now? We have a legal Jockey Club. A bunch of PUPs want to strong this Jockey Club, man that's terrible."

Jim McFadzean
"You think because of what sounds like petty politics now you and the guys - the owners of these horses must suffer again?"

Steven Valencia, Race Horse Owner
"Well yes because in sports I don't see why they put politics in sports. Horse racing really don't have anything to do with politics."

In a sidebar to this story, we've seen an e-mail, dated yesterday, November 10th from the Belize Moto X Association to the Peter August Horse Racing Club confirming their interest in collaborating with them to hold joint events at the Peter August Stadium. In the e-mail, the Moto outlined the commitment they claim to have gotten from GOB, and the Twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena for them to quote: "hold regularly scheduled events at the Peter August Stadium."

Channel 7


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#421772 - 11/12/11 02:31 PM Re: Horsing Around With Politics [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Minister Rene Montero intervenes in horse track controversy

Horse racing is a popular sport in the west, but there is trouble brewing and it is getting political over who gets to control of the only public track. The Cayo Horse Racing Association has been canceled from using the track at the Peter August stadium by no less than Minister Rene Montero. With an event scheduled for November twentieth, the association says they were notified on Wednesday via letter from Montero, area rep for Cayo Central, that it is not authorized to conduct any event on the race track unless it is sanctioned by the Jock Club Committee. The association was also invited to join the Jock Club which, according to Montero, is under the aegis of the National Sports Council. Alejandro Rodriguez, the VP of the Association, says that for the past couple of weeks they have invested time and money into developing the track for the upcoming event and they believe that politics has no business in horse racing:

Alejandro Rodriguez, Vice President, Cayo Horse Racing Association

Alejandro Rodriguez

“Well you see everything is there voluntary nobody charging and it is hard labour. As you see all those guys that are here they work and Sunday we come here and we plant those things to there and all of deh yah things they are lining up to this post so we get some donation already. We put flyers all about we got Orange Walk getting ready their horses, Belize, Corozal they are getting their horse ready. So fi mek this man come and stop this race.”

Andrea Polanco

“But you’ve been told that you can’t conduct the race here?”

Alejandro Rodriguez

“Yes, yesterday Mr. Montero he called us for a meeting and then sudden one he come out, well he didn’t come out, he send his driver with a letter and his driver give me the letter and I read it. And then he told me that this Tate is a register man and if you come to register then we will register in Belmopan too, our committee, the Twin Town Jockey Club because you got Cayo.”

Andrea Polanco

“Did they give a specific reason why?”

Alejandro Rodriguez

“That’s only because the man is register that is all they told me they didn’t give a specific reason why. They only told me that I can’t have any even here in this track.”

Theodore Lennon Jr., Committee Member, Cayo Horse Racing Association

“For me like I own horses out here, I have kids who train horses out here. Out here I mean for San Ignacio we just want to see horse racing on the track, it doesn’t matter who owns the track or who is dealing with the track and as long as they have a good committee they are working that is my most interest about the track. But I am seeing that they are trying to play politics while we are dealing with the track but I think it should be about horse racing and not about politics.”

Andrea Polanco

“What does this mean for you?”

Theodore Lennon Jr.

Theodore Lennon Jr.

“Well it destroys a lot because a lot of kids put a lot of interest in training their horse and it is a lot of time some of them come after school, they put in their training and if you do something like this, what you want us to do with the kids? It’s like we are stopping them from the sports that they love and for us it is just to keep them out of trouble.”

Andrea Polanco

“When we make reference to the work being done, can you discuss with us the specifics?”

Theodore Lennon Jr.

“Well awrite, you could see we have some of the rails coming up and we did pay a guy to grade the track because if we don’t have a track we don’t have horse racing.”

In order to maintain the Peter August Stadium the committee has been paying dues of sixty dollars per year and soliciting donations. They say they are still forging ahead with their plans to hold the race on November twentieth.

Channel 5


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