I suspect horsemen would be unhappy was I in any position of authority over our local racing industry.
My first official act would be to scrap the Diamond Mile. Even when government operated the race track, it was an unconscionable , egregious excess to spend so much taxpayers’ money on one race. Also, in my opinion, it’s a breach of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act (BGLA) for the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) to sponsor any individual race especially to this extent. It’s open to strong argument that any sponsorship at all is ultra vires the BGLC.
The BGLC is a creature of Statute and, accordingly; anything not specifically authorized by the Statute giving it life is illegal. According to the BGLA:
“The functions of the Commission shall be to regulate and control the operation of betting and gaming and the conduct of lotteries in the Island.. [to carry out whatever other functions are assigned by the Act] and, in particular, but without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing-
(a) to examine, in consultation with such organizations and persons as it considers appropriate, problems relating to the operation of betting and gaming and the conduct of lotteries in the Island.
(b) to furnish information and advice and to make recommendations to the Minister with respect to the exercise by him of his functions under Part IV, Part V and Part VI;
(c) to make investigations and surveys for the purpose of obtaining information of use to it in the exercise of its functions.”
So, insofar as horse racing is concerned, the BGLC is impotent. It can only regulate and control BETTING on horse racing; identify problems relating to BETTING and to inform and advise the Minister. The BGLC has no jurisdiction over or responsibility for the sport of horse racing. Accordingly, it isn’t authorized to spend taxpayers’ money sponsoring horse racing no matter the circumstance. Morally speaking, at a time when Government is so desperate for funds for national priorities that it raids the NHT (again); taxes health insurance; raises property taxes to extortionate levels and puts a $7 per litre tax on petrol how in God’s name can spending over $13 million of the people’s money on ONE HORSE RACE be justified?
In any event, it’s also wrong because to spend so much money on one race completely unbalances the industry and gives one horse and its connections too much of an advantage over winners of multiple races during the other eleven months of the year. The purse structure is so poor that several championships can be decided from the result of this one race. In an industry like this, it’s nothing more than a diamond-studded invitation to corruption.
Even if the concept of a Diamond Mile was viable without the inappropriate use of tax payers’ funds, it’s scheduling is myopic at best, brainless at worst. It devalues the year’s Championship race (Superstakes) which is now nothing more than a prep for the Diamond Mile and a target for corruption as connections jostle for places in the big prize.
This race should be scheduled for end of March, for 4yo and older. The previous season’s 3yos would have an uninterrupted classic campaign and a championship showdown with older horses in the Superstakes. Then they rest and freshen up for the Diamond Mile as four year olds. By this method, we retain the prestige of the Superstakes and ensure that field can return with others for a genuine mile championship.
Before segueing to the regular departments, I must note the tragic passing in USA of top class jockey and all around gentleman James Long. James plied his trade at Caymanas Park during the 1990s when he was President of the Jockeys Association and a CTL Director during the boom years. I learned many advanced race riding techniques from long (no pun) always entertaining sit-downs with James.
Deepest condolences to his friends and family. He will be remembered.
- Clocked In
This is where we review horses that excelled on the clock and predict their probable future based on REAL times.
Remember our abbreviations: TV is “Track Variant” (effect of track conditions, including wind, on official times); TVs are in fifths of a second; “minus” means a fast track; “plus” means slow (e.g. -2 means fast by 2/5ths of a second); variants beside an individual horse’s name represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.
Two notebook horses on the clock from my last column, Loose Cannon and Lightning Lily were highly tried (Guineas). Both ran creditably, Loose Cannon ridden to lead from a poor draw; carried the 2000 Guineas field into the home stretch; still 2nd 200m out; weakened last 100m; finished 7l 7th of 16 while Lightning Lily chased the leaders (a length behind She’s A Maneater 700m out); no extra from 400m out, finished 7th of 14. Loose Cannon returned quickly on April 22 over 1200m, a trip at the outer limit of his stamina, and, on a sloppy track, ran into a tartar named Mr Universe (a graded stakes performer in the making) and finished 2nd. Both should be good things back in nw3 and nw2 respectively especially on a fast track.
Two others, Newton’s First Law and Leekout ran 2nd next time, the former obviously inconvenienced by the reduction in trip [1000m(str)] and the latter by a sloppy race track which might have causes him to be too close to the early pace. Both should be kept on the right side.
Now for an important addition to the list:
April 22, 2017 [TV -0.7 per furlong (Rd); -1 (str); track Sloppy]
HENRY THE SECOND (-14) (R7; 3yomdn cond; 1500m; TV -5) a big, imposing colt, bred in the purple (by local horse of the 21st millenium, Miracle Man out of a mare sired by Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled), who was very green and weak as a 2yo, has grown nicely into his frame and produced an impressive first win after 5 months off during which he has obviously also strengthened. The manner in which he lengthened stride and drew off in the last 300 m couldn’t have been more impressive. His time (1:33.0) converts to a Real Time of 1:34.0 (only 4/5ths of a second slower than the Overnight Allowance standard). He’s nailed on to improve markedly and stay forever. He has Derby winner printed all over him.
- Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)
From our last set of OBOs we did make profit since one of the advised portfolio, Justin Rose, only lost in a playoff at a generous each way price. The International Classic weekend (English Guineas; Kentucky Derby) is upcoming (first weekend in May). To update the Kentucky Derby trail, CLASSIC EMPIRE, recovered from injury and training setbacks, showed an electric turn of foot to win the Arkansas Derby. He has the class, stamina and running style required of a Kentucky Derby winner. This was only his second start in 23 weeks so rest assured marked improvement is coming on May 6.
The most proximate English racing feature is the Sandown Gold Cup to be run later today (April 29) at 1530 GMT (9.30 a.m Jamaica Time). The one to be on must be PENDRA who suffered an unfortunate defeat in the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham festival (off since 2016 Grand National; fitted with first-time blinkers) when he ran a blinder off top weight, always up with the pace; looking all over the winner when forging ahead at second last fence only to be caught and beaten by 3/4l on the climb to the line. He has only gone up 3lbs; has all the credentials for these spring marathons (fit, fresh, loves good ground) and, if given a more patient ride, can gain compensation.
This time around, readers get a bonus in the form of a horse to watch in English racing:
THE TARTAN SPARTAN: ran in the inaugural Queen’s Cup (Easter Saturday; Musselburgh; 14f). In a useful field of handicappers, Carbon Dating was the winner but stable-companion The Tartan Spartan caught the eye two lengths back in third. In a messy race, The Tartan Spartan was short of room on the inner in the straight until over a furlong out but kept on well once in the clear to finish with running left whilst the winner enjoyed a trouble-free run. With a clear run, he seemed sure to finish a lot closer. A 4yo colt by the USA stallion The Carbon Unit out of Irish mare The Real Thing, he’s very much unexposed after only 5 career starts and was considered good enough to run in last year’s St. Leger. Watch for him next time out especially in handicaps where he appears well treated