Sun | Dec 17, 2017

Diamond Mile handicapping challenge

Published:Saturday | November 25, 2017 | 12:00 AMCliff Williams
SEEKING MY DREAM (Omar Walker) winning last year's second running of the Diamond Mile at Caymanas Park.

The concept of the Diamond Mile came as a result of the board of directors in 2014 approving expenditure which pushed Caymanas Track Limited's (CTL) expenditure on executive travelling expenses to in excess of $9 million that year to facilitate a delegation travelling to Australia to witness the Melbourne Cup race day.

Traditionally, this turf race is one of the most famous on the international calendar and top trainers globally, and in Europe, in particular, always hope something in their stable can be a worthy competitor to justify making the long trip to Victoria, Down Under.

No one can fault the CTL delegation for proposing a similar race day in Jamaica since the Betting Gaming & Lotteries Commission had governmental approval to provide sponsorship to the tune of $35 million to ensure guaranteed record purses for all categories of races.

There can be no question Diamond days 2015 and 2016 were quite spectacular promotions and yielded record local race sales of around $67 and $62 million, respectively, but no profits accrued to the promoting company, with the cost-of-sale exceeding the gross revenue.

Specifically, by way of explanation, approximately 66 per cent of sales or $42 million was returned to punters as dividends and total purses amounted to $30 million of the $67 million revenue in 2015. This same method of calculation obviously applies to 2016.

The six per cent commission on gross local race sales paid to OTB operators on these days amounted to approximately $3.8 million in 2015 and $3.6 million in 2016, ensuring the cost-of-sale exceeded 110% of revenue or over $70 million in both years.

When the major items of the operating expenses such as staff emoluments, security and other incidental expenditures are taken into account, it demonstrates that the big race days with hugely inflated purses is really a gift to the major stakeholders. Still, this is a scenario with which no one can reasonably take issue.

In fairness, it should be noted that CTL did not incur losses on these Diamond Day promotions with sponsorship of $40 million in each year, but there was absolutely no improvement in their financial position.

There is now a justifiable debate ensuing as to the practicality and fairness of continuing to stage the Diamond Mile as a weight-for-age handicap allotment event. The fact of the matter is that the Melbourne Cup is a handicap race, and the Diamond Mile should be offered on the same basis to avoid farcical weight allotments having a negative impact on profitability.

CTL operated without handicappers, hence the decision by the board to utilise an inaccurate artificially created weight conditions which bore no resemblance to the reality of the ability of the horses. The Jamaica Racing Commission was basically in the same position of having no one capable of offering alternative guidance, thus abdicating its responsibility of industry regulator.

Eligibility for Diamond Mile entry is based on prize money earned in any current season. The problem with this is that a lightly raced top-class horse could fail to earn enough to claim a place in the country's richest race while horses of much lesser ability could qualify without the likelihood or possibility of adding to the qualitative competitiveness of the race.

It is now common knowledge that I have a constantly updated and accurate classification of the Caymanas horse population published elsewhere ahead of each race day. My compilation is based on the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) methodology of classifying and equalising form, which ensures horses of similar ability compete together to enhance the profitability of promoting companies. The following table is a representation of the weight allotment that would apply to a Diamond Mile Handicap for horses rated 206 & less:

HORSE RATING WEIGHT

1. Bigdaddykool 206 57 kilos/126lb

2. Campesino 204 56 kilos/124lb

3. Buzz Nightmare 203 56 kilos/123lb

4. Chace The Great 201 55/kilos/121lb

5. She's A Maneater 199 54 kilos/119lb

6. Houdini's Magic 199 54 kilos/119lb

7. Choo Choo Blue 198 53.5 kilos/118lb

8. Will In Charge 196 52.5/kilos/116lb

9. Perfect Neighbour 193 51 kilos/113lb

10. Another Bullet 192 51 kilos/112lb

11. Gary Glitter 190 50 kilos/110lb

12. Lottery Ticket 189 49.5kilos/109lb

13. Dwayne Star 188 49 kilos/108lb

14. Money Magnet 188 49 kilos/108lb

All other entries will be allotted 47 kilos/104lbs.

Note: The BHA methodology does not and cannot take the distance of future races into account since the form of each horse's last race is equalised to produce individual adjusted rating. It is therefore left entirely to the trainers' discretion to determine the suitability of their horses for distance, weight and other race entry conditions for future races. Doing it differently, and especially after the entries have been nominated, would create inexplicable and unjustifiable handicapping discrepancies.