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Better purse structure will enhance participation at races

-New association to push for pari-mutuel wagering/simultaneous casting
The Boxing Day races at Ellis Thomas Downs was an all Tortola affair as St. Thomas and St. Croix did not participate and which resulted in most of the races being a battle of only two horses. Photo: Reuben Stoby/VINO
President-elect of the VI Horse Owners' Association, Lesmore Smith. Photo: Andre 'Shadow' Dawson
President-elect of the VI Horse Owners' Association, Lesmore Smith. Photo: Andre 'Shadow' Dawson
Dereck "Aruba" Marshall
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - With the participation from arch-rivals St. Thomas and St. Croix never guaranteed whenever there are horse races at Ellis Thomas Downs here in the Virgin Islands, President-elect of the Virgin Islands Horse Owners’ Association, Lesmore Smith, believes increasing prize monies would help to improve participation from the two US Territories.

“...I think St. Thomas and St. Croix eventually would come more and be more supportive because people want to go out to run for money. They don’t have the pari-mutuel like they have in St. Thomas and St. Croix or the simultaneous casting where they could bet. So because they don’t have that they want to see our purses at a better rate where they can come and enjoy a better purse structure. So we are working towards having all of that and maybe that would help to develop a better relationship,” Mr. Smith told Virgin Islands News online in an exclusive interview.

But in order to have a better purse structure, Mr. Smith believes attention must first be placed on improving the horse racing facility. “Well I think one of the things is they (ST. Thomas and St. Croix) probably look down on us in terms of our facilities as not being the one more up to standard and I think we are taking a more proactive approach to firstly getting the facility up to standard where people would come more because we more depend on the fans to come to support. Regardless of whether the horses come from St. Thomas, St. Croix or where, if there is no fan base then the sport cannot pay for itself.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Smith disclosed that his administration would be seeking to get support for pari-mutuel wagering and simultaneous casting to be legalised at horse races in the Virgin Islands.

“It is one of the things that we are now going forward on the trail with. I think that we are going to need people like yourself, the media, to help us to facilitate the dos and the don’ts, the will and wouldn’t, the profits that it can bring to us as a community and also the revenues that it can put into the Government structure. Those revenues can be used for health or social services and all those areas that we are so lacking on especially the insurance because many people can’t afford it and if we can have a better health care system where the load is not on the Government itself but the country is being able to generate other revenues to assist and we can take revenues from that area and put into another to help the less fortunate ones I think that would help. So we look forward for the pari-mutuel/simultaneous casting. It’s one of the things we are presently discussing and its up in the air for a whole lot of discussion.

Pari-mutuel betting/wagering is a betting system in which all bets of a particular type are placed together in a pool; taxes and the “house-take” or “vig” are removed, and payoff odds are calculated by sharing the pool among all winning bets. It is a system used in gambling on horse racing, greyhound racing, jai alai, and all sporting events of relatively short duration in which participants finish in a ranked order.

Outgoing President of the Virgin Islands Horse Owners’ Association Dereck “Aruba” Marshall had said earlier in his administration the issue of pari-mutuel wagering is an idea that has been pondered upon for years, “but as of right now I can’t say that I will be lobbying for that. Right now I am focusing on getting things right that governs the races and track itself.”

However, he did point out that if instituted, it could augur well for the sport. “…with us having a Triple Crown next year, if fans can’t come to the VI they could place their bets, which will be a plus for horseracing in the VI.”

But the president was cognizant that if the bridge is crossed, the decision may not go down lightly with certain sections in the Territory, admitting, “We are considered a religious community”.

14 Responses to “ Better purse structure will enhance participation at races ”

  • facts (28/12/2011, 09:20) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Uncle Ralph not in charge anymore so maybe we might get the betting thing on!
  • Johnny (28/12/2011, 10:21) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    How about horses that can run faster than the fleas on their backs? That would have been a start, but it's all irrellevant anyway as Cricket will be taking over.
  • little a racetrack (28/12/2011, 11:49) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Lesmore you doing a good job do not mind the noise in the market!
    • Lil Girl (29/12/2011, 20:29) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      I will tell you this, Lesmore was not elected to be the President he appointed himself and put other people on the committee. You can ask any horse owners if a vote was taken. Right now his is damaging the track and he needs to be careful of what he is doing. If you don't know something about the track I think that he should ask a question. The stalls are outrageous and stupid. This man need to be aware of what he is doing and I don't think that as President he will last long. Right now he think he own the track and therefore making a mess of things between the other horse owners.
  • hog city (28/12/2011, 12:36) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    lesmore made a mess of those vendor stalls....they are too small now...i coudn't even get a drink
  • ONENESS (28/12/2011, 14:35) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    We want betting at the track on race day only, No one is asking anyone to legalize gambling in the BVI. The horse owners, association and the GOVT can get peace of the pie. It will enhance the sport tremendously. In Tola you can get lottery tickets from P.R. & STT very easy. Some of the churches play Bingo, Please help the horse owners the NEW NDP. I don't want to hear anything about Churches or Christian community. There is immorality in every society. If the churches start speaking out against the other ills in the BVI then I will as they say in TOLA (GO SIT DOWN).
  • open door (28/12/2011, 18:16) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    i just waiting to see if St. Criox horses will come over for the triple crown!
  • the rock (28/12/2011, 21:54) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    what the bvi needs is a better race track...then st croix and st thomas will come over....lets start with that first!!
    • Lil Girl (29/12/2011, 20:35) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      I agree that the track needs to be upgraded. First of all Fraser made a boo boo when he got Enos to fix the track, a man who doesn't know squat about what the track needs. Karl had to help them out because he was the one who dealt with the track from the begining and he also knew the guys who were repairing the track. Lesmore is trying to wreck the track by grading off the inside. We atleast need some kind of help from someone outside to assist with proper maintenance of the track and its appearance. Tola Track need a better appearance I think it needs sprucing up.
  • fish (28/12/2011, 23:33) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    the so called Christian people dem just a bunch of fony..only live that life once dem get in church deman

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