Type to search

Featured General Biz News

Puerto Rico Horse Owners Assoc. sues over Camarero racetrack conditions

It is seeking $500,000 in damages, attorneys’ fees and costs.

The Puerto Rico Horse Owners Association Inc. has filed a civil suit against the Puerto Rico Gaming Commission, various government officials and Camarero Racetrack Corp., citing concerns over the condition of the thoroughbred racetrack owned by the latter.

The association alleges the Gaming Commission is responsible for supervising the racetrack, including “assuring that its condition provides for the safety of the riders and the racehorses during the morning workouts and during race days, a condition for the issuance of the license to operate Hipódromo Camarero.”

The group is seeking $500,000 in damages, along with attorneys’ fees and costs.

According to the legal filing, more than 26 months ago, on Feb. 18, 2022, the association filed a complaint with the Gaming Commission’s executive director, Juan Carlos Santaella-Marchand, who is named in the lawsuit. 

The case was assigned to Judge José Martínez-Ramos, “who after some administrative proceedings improperly determined that he lacked jurisdiction to consider the complaint, because allegedly the Executive Director had commenced a parallel investigation on the racetrack and that he understood that the results of that so called investigation should be completed first,” the association stated.

“In the meantime, the conditions of the Racetrack continued to deteriorate further endangering the safety and welfare of the riders and the thoroughbreds working out in the mornings and racing during official races at Hipódromo Camarero,” the group said.

After failing to obtain satisfactory results from the agency, “and in view of Camarero’s lackadaisical attitude and hands down modus operandi in meeting its obligations under the Racing Act and applicable regulations,” the association said, it filed a second complaint on Jan. 12, 2024.

The group cited a decision by the local court, ruling that since 2016, the track has been dangerously maintained, and that Camarero has violated multiple regulations of the Racing Regulation General Part and Licensing.

“The problems of the Racetrack are of a serious nature, placing at risk the safety of the riders and the thoroughbreds in use thereof. In order to fix such problems, a soil study, inspection of the Racetrack’s base, the composition of the sand serving as cushion over its base and its depth, the Racetrack’s drainage system and the use of the proper equipment are required,” the organization emphasized.

The association noted that the poor racetrack conditions have led to the cancellation of several races this year.

Last month, the group sent a letter to Camarero President Ervin Rodríguez-Vélez, requesting that access to the Racetrack be granted to John Passero, which it called “one of the foremost racetrack consultants in the United States and Canada,” to inspect the facilities and the equipment used for its maintenance, and to provide a report at no cost to Camarero, but the request was allegedly denied.

“The condition of the racetrack resulting in the suspension of the official races and the workouts, coupled with the injuries suffered by the thoroughbreds owned by the members of [Puerto Rico Horse Owners Association], have caused them substantial damages, estimated at not less than $500,000, due to the resulting loss of purse money and of their investment in the purchase of their racing stock,” the organization stated in its suit.

The association has requested a jury trial to settle the matter.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *