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‘People said we would only become a training track’- Lesmore Smith

- but now VI has the only functioning track in the Greater VI
President of the Virgin Islands Horse Owners Association, Mr Lesmore Smith has said he is encouraged to continue to work towards the development of horse racing in the Virgin Islands despite the obstacles. Photo: VINO/File
The grandstands at Ellis Thomas Downs in Sea Cows Bay were destroyed by hurricanes Irma and Maria in September. The running surface and stables were also damaged. Photo: VINO/File
The grandstands at Ellis Thomas Downs in Sea Cows Bay were destroyed by hurricanes Irma and Maria in September. The running surface and stables were also damaged. Photo: VINO/File
King Power in the Winner's Circle at the Pre-August Festival Races at Ellis Thomas Downs in Sea Cows Bay, Tortola on July 7, 2019. Photo: VINO
King Power in the Winner's Circle at the Pre-August Festival Races at Ellis Thomas Downs in Sea Cows Bay, Tortola on July 7, 2019. Photo: VINO
SEA COWS BAY, Tortola, VI- “I am not raising my own flags but giving myself a pat on the back as well, while not being boastful about it, that the Virgin Islands has the only [horse racing] track running and it probably will be the only track [in Greater Virgin Islands] for the next year.”

This is according to President of the Virgin Islands Horse Owners Association, Mr Lesmore Smith, who after a successful staging of the Pre-August Festival Races on July 7, 2019 couldn’t help but reflect on the daunting challenges faced by the Association to keep horse racing alive in the Virgin Islands following the hurricanes of 2017 that devastated the lone race track in the Virgin Islands (VI), Ellis Thomas Downs, in Sea Cows Bay.

We took on a ‘huge monster’

Speaking exclusively to Virgin Islands News Online on August 8, 2019, Mr Smith said it was a “huge monster” that the Association had to take on to keep horse racing alive in the territory.

“At one point when I was trying to raise money on the radio with telethons and other stuff I was bombarded with a lot of negativity. People said we would only become a training track and, God forbid, we are the only running track in the Virgin Islands and may be so for the next year based on what’s happening.”

Mr Smith said the lesson learnt is that sometimes you have to rise above the storms and the challenges. He added that horse racing is more than just entertainment but has a role to play in the economy of the VI, even if it is just a small one. “You will see that it is keeping our economy in some regards, whether it is one person or 20 persons. There are people coming through in hotels and buying foods, gasoline.”

‘Ellis Thomas Downs the place to be’ August Tuesday

Mr Smith said he is encouraged to continue to work towards the development of the sport despite the obstacles. The next challenge is the highly anticipated August Festival Races.

“I like challenges, I take them with strides. I rose to the occasion and kept moving.

“Come August 6th, if we should live and no disaster, God forbid, I telling you Sea Cows Bay is going to be the place to be.”

Mr Smith said while horses from Antigua wouldn’t be coming he is expecting horses from another country that has not participated before in races in the territory.

Some 14 horses from St Thomas, US Virgin Islands, took part in the Pre-August Festival races, and Mr Smith said he is further encouraged that persons continue to purchase horses.

“Four new horses supposed to arriving in St Thomas this week, some for Tortola, some for St Thomas. So the people continue to buy horses, they continue to enhance the sport.

“So it was through those initiatives taken then is why I am saying people out there still shopping for horses and still enhancing the quality of the sport and moving forward.”

Mr Smith said additional work will be done at Ellis Thomas Downs “so that we can look really beautiful” for the August Festival Races. “We already fixed up the Winner’s Circles with flowers and plants.”

“Sometimes you have to take these leaps of faith. Sometimes it’s like you and I as parents, the child don’t understand what you are doing until they get to the point where they understand…” Mr Smith reasoned.

7 Responses to “‘People said we would only become a training track’- Lesmore Smith”

  • horse fan (12/07/2019, 17:24) Like (2) Dislike (14) Reply
    We need ms lake back
    • Yo (12/07/2019, 18:38) Like (13) Dislike (5) Reply
      what saved us lesmore is the deal that fell through so fsr with the investers over in the usvi, if all was good we would of been a training track, but what schooll children want to know is where the purse money coming from, no advertising no fixing of fences around the track, attendance not thst giod but purses sky high, if i had the funds i was buying a horse too. but quodos to you, a job well done.
    • Rise (13/07/2019, 20:56) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
      For God sake gimme a break!! Good riddance.
  • Hit the nail on the head (12/07/2019, 20:01) Like (10) Dislike (3) Reply
    Lesmore, do not forget to have an Entertainment and Performances segments between the races

    Here are some suggestions to give it a heritage and cultural flare

    A donkey race

    A brief Storytelling and Comedy moment

    A fashion and hat show

    A Medley of Renditions by a live band of songs from every country the horses are representing: VI, USVI, and any other Caribbean country that is being represented at the horse races

    Renditions by one of the local fungi band

    invite the college and high school bands to play as well



  • asking for a friend (12/07/2019, 23:19) Like (2) Dislike (3) Reply
    Why is one man using all his money to do this?
  • Audit (12/07/2019, 23:30) Like (1) Dislike (6) Reply
    We need to see the books
  • tola (13/07/2019, 17:19) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    Give thanks for what you are doing for our territory Mr. Smith.


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