Hipodromo Camarero in Puerto Rico

Hipodromo Camarero in Puerto Rico

Adam Spradling

Racing Returns, Repairs Still Needed at Camarero

Track held three days of racing, but executives say the track needs work.

For the second time since Hurricane Maria hit the island Sept. 20, Hipodromo Camarero held live racing, with 19 races spread across three cards Dec. 15-17, according to Equibase.

In a Dec. 17 post to its website, representatives of the track near San Juan thanked those who participated, but recognized that there are still needed repairs.

"We are happy, the owners are cooperating, the trainers, the grooms, everyone is doing their part," said Camarero's president and CEO Ervin Rodríguez Véle.

"The important thing was to start (live racing) again ... This sport has been around for 135 years and is rooted in the Puerto Rican culture, and people are responding to (racing's) return."

However, Marc Tacher, treasurer of the Camarero board of directors, said that major repairs haven't been made because the track currently lacks funding as insurance appraisals continue.

"From 38 barns, 34 or 33 lost their roofs. We had to put in (temporary) awnings because we are still in negotiations with the insurance company and that has been delayed... Because Puerto Rico was not prepared for a (disaster) the magnitude of Hurricane Maria, the amount of (insurance) adjusters, people that the insurance company hires to come to see the damage and evaluate it, can not cope (with the amount of work)," he said.

The track said that horses in barns without roofs were relocated and debris in the barn areas was cleared away. It also was noted that there are safe, comfortable areas for racegoers.

"... we could not take on the responsibility of repairing the barn roofs because it is an investment of $6 million to $7 million. Overall, we are talking about $28 million (in repairs), but (for that), we depend on the insurance company," Tacher said.

Tacher also said the track aims to discuss issues with insurance adjusters next week and if there's an agreement, the track will continue repairs.