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‘God knows I need help; I am ready to give up’ – Lesmore Smith

- makes another appeal for Gov’t’s intervention; Support from horse owners
President of the Virgin Islands Horse Owners Association and long-time horse owner, Mr Lesmore Smith (inset) continues to lobby for government’s intervention with legislation to legalise pari-mutuel wagering, which he believes is one of the things that can revive the sport of horse racing in the Virgin Islands. Photo: VINO
Ellis Thomas Downs, the home of horse racing in the [British] Virgin Islands, was extensively damaged by the 2017 hurricanes. Photo: Facebook
Ellis Thomas Downs, the home of horse racing in the [British] Virgin Islands, was extensively damaged by the 2017 hurricanes. Photo: Facebook
President of the Virgin Islands Horse Owners Association and long-time horse owner, Mr Lesmore Smith has said horse owners in the US Virgin Islands have been reluctant to come to races on Tortola due to the low prize monies and cost to get their horses here. Photo: VINO/File
President of the Virgin Islands Horse Owners Association and long-time horse owner, Mr Lesmore Smith has said horse owners in the US Virgin Islands have been reluctant to come to races on Tortola due to the low prize monies and cost to get their horses here. Photo: VINO/File
Ellis Thomas Downs, the home of horse racing in the [British] Virgin Islands, was extensively damaged by the 2017 hurricanes. Photo: Facebook
Ellis Thomas Downs, the home of horse racing in the [British] Virgin Islands, was extensively damaged by the 2017 hurricanes. Photo: Facebook
SEA COWS BAY, Tortola, VI- When Ellis Thomas Downs, the home of horse racing in the [British] Virgin Islands, was extensively damaged by the 2017 hurricanes, President of the Virgin Islands Horse Owners Association and long-time horse owner, Mr Lesmore Smith took on the mantle of ensuring the sport did not die by first working to get the grandstands and track fixed and then consistently organising race cards, often using his own resources to ensure plans became reality.

The strain; however, of bearing the weight of horse racing in the Territory has taken its toll on Mr Smith, who continues to lobby for government’s intervention with legislation to legalise pari-mutuel wagering, which he believes is one of the things that can revive the sport in the Virgin Islands.

Mr Smith has previously said horse owners in the US Virgin Islands have been reluctant to come to races on Tortola due to the low prize monies and cost to get their horses here.

He said they had been coming; nevertheless, because their tracks, both on St Thomas and St Croix, were also damaged by the hurricanes of 2017 but once their tracks are fixed, it would be harder to persuade the USVI horse owners to come to Tortola.

The Pre-Valentine’s Horse Races at Ellis Thomas Downs on Sunday, February 2, 2020 had only seen nine horses from St Thomas making the trip. Notably absent were champion horses Thulean and Totally Evil.

Having won the main race with his favourite horse Courage & Honour, Mr Smith was very happy but again sounded the call for Government to legalise pari-mutuel wagering as a means of saving the sport.

At breaking point

In pouring out his heart for help, Mr Smith declared he is at the point of giving up.

“God knows I need help, I am ready to give up. Right now I am thinking of giving up but everybody saying if I give up nobody else is going to take up the mantle, but it comes a time you have to quit and run before you take dead,” Mr Smith told Mr Andre S. Dawson aka ‘Shadow’ during an interview for JTV Sport following the feature race on February 2, 2020.

“And I am hoping that my good government, along with some other investors within the region, would say step in and give us a helping hand.”

Mr Smith said he hopes Government can get pari-mutuel wagering legalised sooner rather than later in order to defer some of the costs associated with organising races.

“It’s an expensive venture being a horse owner and promoter, it’s a bit over the top at times but I do it with the passion for the sport…I am hoping that help will soon be on the way, it’s a challenge, it’s an uphill battle for one year.”

Mr Smith noted that, as highlighted in the races’ booklet, of all the repairs and improvements at Ellis Thomas Downs following the September 2017 hurricanes, “It didn’t just happen. It took a lot to make it happen, I am happy to be a part of it but God knows I need help.”

Horse owners urged to lend support

The local horse racing president also disclosed to Mr Dawson that it has been a major challenge at the helm of the sport, especially when there is a lack of support from horse owners.

“The most challenge you get sometime is from the horse owners themselves, always ready to criticise, to knock you down, to knock you under instead of asking what can I do to lend a helping hand.”

An obviously frustrated Smith pointed to the tractor that was raking the track at the time of being interviewed, “The tractor you see raking the track belongs to me, all these nice plants, all the shades in the sands, I have to incur all the costs of those stuff.”

He continued, “I am asking the horse owners, at least you could donate a gallon of diesel for the tractor to rake the track, no that’s too much for them to do but when race is finished they need their money just the same and it’s kind of challenging.”

Sort out land issues

Mr Smith also said Government has land issues to sort out in the interest of the sport. “There is a land issue that is going on at Sea Cows Bay track for the last 20 plus years. We need to correct these things to make it happen.”

“The land where the cars park up belongs to somebody, the land where the horses are belong to somebody. In this day and age that shouldn’t be so, I am not playing politics, I am being realistic in saying that we need to curb these problems and let’s move forward.”

14 Responses to “‘God knows I need help; I am ready to give up’ – Lesmore Smith”

  • Ms. P (04/02/2020, 10:48) Like (1) Dislike (3) Reply
    help help help the horse race ship is sinking
    • ... (04/02/2020, 11:28) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
      Horse race just need a brand new PR team..they wait 2 days before to release a card...guess half full cards and rum is the only entertainment the track
    • the rock (05/02/2020, 12:52) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      The money from rock gone soon stop, after april we are on our own!
  • Ratchet minds (04/02/2020, 11:18) Like (2) Dislike (6) Reply
    No!!!! If you’ll let this go who we have our fashion show? How we get to judge people in Best dress, worse dress and repeat? I dun ga buy my outfits from Amazon
  • Speak the truth (04/02/2020, 11:35) Like (7) Dislike (2) Reply
    The public know that you will not get the money you were getting from VIGL anymore what you were getting to put on the races gone so now you feeling on giving up public knows you now nice attempt
    • Same Show (04/02/2020, 13:55) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
      You mean all that is going on under the might Julian Frazer watch? Did you say this been happening over 20 years? He want to rename a hill, he want public to suit Government for environment and he was part of Government during these 20 years?

      No man, I cannot believe this. You mean might frazer the liberator cannot put his hand to liberate this situation? Maybe he don't know about it just as he didn't know contract was signed for 1.5 million before election. Here is the opportune time to redirect the 1.5 million. Go talk to might frazer. Its a done deal.
  • Hmmm (04/02/2020, 11:43) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    Government past and present don't have time with nothing that ain't benefitting them. Get a millionaire investor/s who can give cut backs. Hmmm. U will see how fast things get done.... U all don't have nothing to offer.... Keep talking. Keep crying. ..hmmm. Money speaks
  • Just saying (04/02/2020, 13:47) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    He can ask the money man them in ndp 2 his party like white head, jamsy and mb
  • just wrong (04/02/2020, 13:49) Like (3) Dislike (4) Reply
    Is it possible the real problem is Mr. Smith?
  • Diaspora (04/02/2020, 14:52) Like (13) Dislike (1) Reply
    It is either that the government is going to take the lead on sports in the VI or it is not? Hurricanes Irma and Maria severely damaged many sport facilities in the VI and the recovery is slow as molasses at the South Pole. However, some sports were dying on the vine before the hurricanes, ie, softball ball, horse racing, cricket....etc. High quality and functioning sports facilities is a core quality of life and standard of living issue. The territory rides high on the crest of the wave when its athletes compete well on the international stage. Quality facilities contribute to that success. When our athlete wins, everybody wants a photo op. Well, the territory must invest its time and resources to make those photo ops a reality.

    A territory with a $414M operations and management budget and an approx $1, 000,000,000 GDP should have more concrete outcomes than is being delivered. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Sports, Agriculture and Fisheries is responsible for sport and needs to s...t or get off the p...e. This ministry is too large to be effective. Sports, agriculture and fisheries need a more targeted/specialty focus. Now they are just items on a to do list. An organization can at best do 1 or 2 things well. Beyond that mediocrity sets in. They do a lot of things but does nothing well.
  • josiah'sbay (04/02/2020, 19:07) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    Mr Smith, here a suggestion. Sell live streams to the bars and other outlets that have a horse racing fan base. Partner up with a legal online betting service until government gets around to para-mutual betting. I'm not sure if it's possible but it might be worth researching to find out.
    • Laura (05/02/2020, 06:07) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      This is what the BVI needs proactive thinking not sitting down and wait and let's see or what can the government of the day give us..jeez man...think outside the box people!!!
  • Thank you Josiah's Bay (05/02/2020, 06:38) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    It is great to see a comment that actually gives a suggestion instead of constant criticisms and complaints. Thank you!


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