Jamaica has a rich heritage, which not only includes our culture and our beautiful country, but also horses. Yes, horses were introduced to Jamaica as early as the 1500s. During the British invasion of the island in 1655, wild horses were plentiful. Horses were later imported from England in 1777 for horse racing in Jamaica. Before long, Jamaica started to produce thoroughbreds, and did so well that they started to export horses back to England and to Central America. The horse racing sport rapidly became popular, and in the 1800s almost every parish had its own racetrack.
Horse racing is also a part of the Jamaican folklore. In the late 1960s there were two recorded hit songs about a horse named “Long Shot”. This was a highlight of the period and shows the creativity of the Jamaican music and talent and the popularity of horse racing.
Jamaican horses have not only competed locally, but have also participated and championed in regional competitions. Jamaican horses have dominated regional events as early as the 1950s when they won the Trinidad and Tobago Derby.
Horse racing in Jamaica is synonymous with Caymanas Track . Caymanas Track is the island’s only racetrack, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009. The property is a huge 196 acres and is located in the parish of St. Catherine. Many visitors are now familiar with this location since it has been recently added to the list of Jamaica’s many tourist attractions. By visiting Caymanas track you may be surprised at the passion and spirit displayed by horseracing fans.
Jockeys such as Richard Depass, George Hosang (Eclipse Award Winner), Shaun Bridgmohan, Rajiv Maragh are well know in North America and to local horseracing fans.
Winston Griffiths is a well celebrated jockey who has been in the horseracing career for 30 plus years. He has ridden more winning horses than any other jockey at Caymanas Park or in the English speaking Caribbean. It is no wonder he has won five jockey championships, has a record of 44 classic wins, among a host of other accolades. But most significantly for Griffiths, his outstanding contribution to the sport has earned him the National Order of Distinction (O.D.) in 1999. He received the “None Such Award” for lifetime achievement on National Heroes Day of ’99.