Fri | Dec 6, 2019

Great show of unity in horse-racing circles

Published:Tuesday | November 12, 2019 | 12:10 AM

The sport of racing horses is going through a period of stress as the promotion of the sport is facing some serious financial difficulties.

The Government, who at one time was the sole promoter of the sport, eventually sought buyers. Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited stepped up to the plate and has so far injected much-needed cash in its rescue bid, as it strives to become profitable.

There are different reasons being postulated in the press for the continued financial losses that dog the promoter. The bald fact, however, is that racing in Jamaica needs (a) more horses, and (b) new bettors. Last weekend, the Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association (TOBA), in conjunction with the people that matter – the stakeholders, owners, breeders, trainers, grooms, fans, punters, and administrators – in a dramatic show of unity, joined to produce what was the most exciting weekend of racing in the history of the sport.

Under the leadership of long-time owner and breeder Robert Dabdoub, the entire industry united to produce this momentous and memorable weekend. Last Thursday, the celebrations began with a Triple Champions Awards Dinner, where legendary jockeys and racing icons – George HoSang, two-time champion jockey in Jamaica and two-time champion jockey in Canada; Emilio ‘Bimbo’ Rodriquez, four-time champion jockey of Jamaica; and Winston ‘Fanna’ Griffiths, a five-time champion jockey in Jamaica – were fêted and congratulated.

The video replays and interviews of these greats went down very well with the fans. The support and reminiscing of Sandy Hawley, many-time champion jockey in Canada and the USA and Hall of Famer in both racing jurisdictions, who told the attendees of his many on and off-the-track experiences with the incomparable George HoSang, was a welcomed addition to the festivities.

Also honoured at this function were Triple Crown winners MARK MY WORD, SHE’S A MANEATER and SUPREME SOUL, who, incidentally, will be travelling to the Caribbean Classic, being held in Florida this year, continuing a trend that had ceased for the past couple of years.

Jamaican trainers plying their trade abroad with distinction were also honoured.

Laurie Silvera, Charlton Baker, José Pinchin, Rohan Crichton, Raymond Handal, and Jason DaCosta, son of many-time champion trainer here in Jamaica, Wayne DaCosta, were recognised and given plaques to record our appreciation of their continued strive for excellence in foreign jurisdictions.

PRESTIGIOUS DIAMOND MILE

Then it was on to Caymanas Park, where the promoter, Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Ltd, put on 24 races over two days, Friday and Saturday, culminating in the rich and prestigious Diamond Mile that saw the clash between arguably the two best horses in the country, STRANGER DANGER and SHE’S A MANEATER.

That the filly, SHE’S A MANEATER, demolished the field of the best horses presently in the island, ranks this filly as one of the best ever to race here in Jamaica. The weekend culminated with the Annual TOBA Yearling Sale conducted by a guest auctioneer, Richard Patterson, who has conducted sales in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico.

This successful sale saw approximately 138 horses coming under the hammer for a total nearing $178 million. A feature of this sale was the fact that although the top yearling, lot number 44, sold for $4.5 million-less than the record of $5 million for a yearling – 12 horses were sold for $3 million or more, 18 were sold for between $2 million to $3 million, 38 were sold for between $1 million and $2 million, 19 for less than $500,000. The rest being sold for essentially what it costs to bring a horse to the sale, between 500,000 and $1 million.

What the stakeholders, fans, administrators and supporters hope is that this mammoth extravaganza and show of unity will result in a rebirth of a profitable sport, as long as the Government understands that it still has a part to play in the assistance necessary for the revival of the sport of kings! See you at the track this Saturday, excitement awaits!