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SVL preferred to take over Caymanas Track

Published:Thursday | January 14, 2016 | 1:00 AMDania Bogle
Gladstone Taylor/Freelance Photographer ROYAL ASSAULT (right), with Shane Ellis aboard, leads the field on the way to winning the ninth race at Caymanas Park on Saturday.
File CTL's CEO, Stewart
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SUPREME Ventures Limited (SVL) has emerged as the preferred choice to take over the operations of Caymanas Track Limited (CTL) as the Government seeks to divest the race track.

Chief Executive Officer of CTL Cedric Stewart, told The Gleaner that an enterprise team put together by the Ministry of Finance had examined the bids of SVL and Caymanas Racing and Entertainment - a group of investors headed by businessman Richard Lake - and had recommended the gaming company.

"A request for proposals (to purchase the park) went out in July, and only two people responded, and the bids were analysed and a decision [taken] as to which bid was best," said Stewart.

The CEO said the ratification would be done by the end of January, with a 60-day period then expected for negotiations to be complete by the start of the new financial year.

"That (divestment) is very current. We are expecting it to be completed by April 1, 2016. The enterprise team has completed its work and made its recommendation to Cabinet. Cabinet will decide," he told The Gleaner in an exclusive interview, yesterday.

The enterprise team included several stakeholders, including Stewart himself as well as chairman of CTL, Chris Brown.

"That's just a recommendation to the minister of finance to go to Cabinet and get its approval. It's very possible that Cabinet would have a different view," Stewart added.

Meanwhile, Stewart said that CTL had registered an $8 million profit from last December's inaugural Diamond Mile.

SVL ($5 million) and the Betting Gaming and Lotteries Commission ($35 million) were the main sponsors of the race for local-bred and imported horses.

While noting that race days were normally unprofitable, Stewart said that the track had made $66.5 million from sales from races.

"Historically and culturally, when it is sponsored like that you can make a profit, and the aim is to get sponsorship and generate a profit. It can be profitable. It's just what needs to be done," said Stewart.

He added that while the event, touted as the richest in the English-speaking Caribbean with a purse of US$115,000, had been open to imported horses, none had participated.

"We think that it was because it was the inaugural running and it was conceptualised late in the day and information wasn't passed on in a timely manner, but now that it has become a calendar event, we are expecting we will get horses from Barbados and Trinidad this year," he said.

"The race is December 3 this year, and that is out there so they can organise better," he said, adding that the company hoped that the Diamond Mile would bring back prestige to local horse racing.

"It was supposed to be a prestigious event trying to recapture the former glory where horse racing was the sport of kings and queens and people would come out, and that's our intention," he said.