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‘Track surface needs overhaul; No vet @ races' – Karen B. Smith-Aaron

- Mrs Smith-Aaron confirmed it has been several years since work was carried out on track surface @ Ellis Thomas Downs
Outgoing President of the Virgin Islands Horse Owners’ Association Karen B. Smith-Aaron said while she cannot determine what led to the fatal fall of championship horse Doughmaker on Sunday December 27, 2015, she acknowledged that the track surface at Ellis Thomas Downs is in need of an overhaul and said that for 2016 the plan is to have a veterinarian on standby at races. Photo: VINO/File
Karen B. Smith-Aaron, outgoing President of the VI Horse Owners' Association. Photo: VINO/File
Karen B. Smith-Aaron, outgoing President of the VI Horse Owners' Association. Photo: VINO/File
“It is uncertain what caused Doughmaker's fatal injuries as he rounded the last corner before the finish line. This, in addition to the lack of readily available vet services, makes Mrs. Delville-Hodge's frustrations quite understandable. Her passion for horses is admirable,” said Association's PRO Esther N. Fraser. Photo: Provided
“It is uncertain what caused Doughmaker's fatal injuries as he rounded the last corner before the finish line. This, in addition to the lack of readily available vet services, makes Mrs. Delville-Hodge's frustrations quite understandable. Her passion for horses is admirable,” said Association's PRO Esther N. Fraser. Photo: Provided
Doughmaker in happier times. Photo: VINO/File
Doughmaker in happier times. Photo: VINO/File
Violet 'Letty' Delville-Hodge (centre) with her trainer and one of her jockeys. Photo: VINO/File
Violet 'Letty' Delville-Hodge (centre) with her trainer and one of her jockeys. Photo: VINO/File
SEA COWS BAY, Tortola, VI – Outgoing President of the Virgin Islands Horse Owners’ Association Karen B. Smith-Aaron said while she cannot determine what led to the fatal fall of championship horse Doughmaker on Sunday December 27, 2015, she acknowledged that the track surface at Ellis Thomas Downs is in need of an overhaul and said that for 2016 the plan is to have a veterinarian on standby at races.

Smith-Aaron was responding to queries put by Virgin Islands News Online after Doughmaker owner Violet ‘Letty’ Delville-Hodge complained bitterly regarding the fact that there was no vet to tend to her horse after it broke its legs towards the end of the feature race on Sunday. She also decried the state of the track surface which she said could have been a contributing factor.

Delville-Hodge threatened to walk away from the sport she has been an ardent supporter of for so many years.

Absence of vet added to trauma

“The loss of Doughmaker was unfortunate, and the absence of a vet added to the trauma of Letty and the rest of the members of the L&B Racing Stables having to see him suffer. While I am not in a position to determine the cause of the accident, as Doughmaker was recovering from a previous injury, I can confirm that the track requires an overhaul,” Smith-Aaron said.

Several years since work done on track

Smith-Aaron said also that it has been several years since work has been carried out to add new soil and level the running surface. “Unfortunately, due to the state of the economy, the Government is financially unable to finance the project at this time, hence, the ongoing study to prepare legislation to commence Pari Mutuel betting as a revenue source to fund races and maintain the track,” said Smith-Aaron.

She said the Association is cognizant that it is important to have a vet on the track during the races. “Discussions are ongoing with the Chief Agricultural Officer to ensure that a vet is available for the 2016 racing calendar. On behalf of the committee, I extend apologies to the members of L&B Racing Stables and racing fans for the additional stress endured while waiting on the vet,” she said.

Bright & sunny races turned sombre

In a statement to this news site, Public Relations Officer of the Association Esther N. Fraser said that the bright and sunny races soon turned sombre.

“Boxing Day races were off to a brisk start. The sun came out and so did the crowds. However, much of the excitement and anticipation preceding the feature race was lost with Doughmaker. He was a fine horse and had winning trophies to prove it. The BVI Horse Owners' Association extend our condolences to L&B Racing Stables during this difficult time. It is not an easy thing to lose a horse who you've groomed, cared for, nursed through injuries, and ridden to victory,” said Fraser.

“It is uncertain what caused Doughmaker's fatal injuries as he rounded the last corner before the finish line. This, in addition to the lack of readily available vet services, makes Mrs Delville-Hodge's frustrations quite understandable. Her passion for horses is admirable,” said Fraser.

Letty’s exit from horse racing would be regrettable

She added that Mrs Delville-Hodge is also in a unique position to affect the change she wishes to see.

“She’s aware of the challenges regarding funding and maintaining track, a long-time horse owner, and an astute and experienced businesswoman. Her leaving would be regrettable, as she would also be leaving the opportunity to significantly and positively impact the revitalisation of horse racing in the Virgin Islands; to the detriment of the very horses she professes to care for,” said Fraser.

Fraser pointed out that the lack of adequate resources is not new to the BVI Horse Owners’ Association.

“To address these deficiencies, we are advocating for Pari Mutuel betting as a viable and regenerative source of revenue… revenue that will aid in better maintenance for our track and stables, refining the race goers’ experience as well as provide costly equipment and much more. The establishment of a Commission to regulate and enforce proposed legislation is also being researched. Mrs Delville-Hodge and many others have been consistent cheerleaders in this regard,” Fraser said.

She noted that in spite of the frustrations and losses, “it is imperative that we stay the course and do what is necessary to enhance the critical elements of the cultural staple that is horse racing.”

See related story:

http://www.virginislandsnewsonline.com/en/news/letty-threatens-to-quit-horse-racing-claims-persons-rejoiced-doughmakers-demise-

33 Responses to “‘Track surface needs overhaul; No vet @ races' – Karen B. Smith-Aaron”

  • wize up (29/12/2015, 09:09) Like (17) Dislike (2) Reply
    question: the horses that run on race-day; dont the horse owners use that same track to practice on before race day...dont the horse owners inspect the track conditions before allowing their horses to run( its just a question )....just another question: cant the money given to foreign bands to play during festival be given to the horse racing association(more beneficial to the territory)
    • Well Sah (29/12/2015, 09:50) Like (6) Dislike (1) Reply
      I would think that training on the track is kind of different from when the horses are in an actual race. Most of the time when they are training they are not allowed to go at full speed for a long lenght of time as they do when they are actually running on race day. Additionally many horse owners may know of the condition of the track but they still may go ahead and race their horses because of the lack of races that are held on Tortola they just want to see their horses run after spending so much money and time getting the horses fit the race.
    • Yes (29/12/2015, 12:42) Like (9) Dislike (1) Reply
      How stupid are the horse racing association. When Myron gave them money instead of buying a horse why not fix the track first. That's like having a house with no roof and go out and buy new furniture and when it rain you complain. It would make since to use money to make better surface to protect your investment. That's about 5 horses this year. The message is clear. Stop racing, fix track.
    • i can't feel my face! (29/12/2015, 15:25) Like (11) Dislike (4) Reply
      Karen, u are to damn late, u were president for over 2 yrs, now u here talking crap, but don't worry mrs. lake will fix everything, u just wait and see, the track is not the problem, its the horse owners, if your horse is sick leave him or her in the damn stable, look at james penn horse that broke it's leg during our festival races, he was sick, look at really uptown he was sick and if u were really into horse racing u would of seen that dought maker was not in any shape for that kind of pressure, look at the race good he wanted to stop, he fell down on the straight away coming home, what we really need is a bigger damn track, I could side that. town hall and trading secrets legs went bad -what did mrs lake do, she retired both of them, now that's an owners love for her horses, u all figure the rest out, and stop blaming the bull ring!
      • Well Sah (30/12/2015, 09:49) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        Something is definately wrong with that track. To many horses have broken their leg or legs there. In comparison to the tracks on St. Croix and St Thomas, I would say that more horses have broken their legs or leg at the Tortola track. Please correct me if I am wrong.
  • brian hodge (29/12/2015, 09:21) Like (13) Dislike (1) Reply
    $38,000 in total prize money and you cant put a little a side for a vet to be there, yet can afford to have an ambulance with two paramedics? four or five races a year, so a dollar from entrance fee can't be put a side to cover a Vet on standby ? Seems like they just waiting for pari mutuel for the answer to everything.........
    • boy i tell you (29/12/2015, 16:20) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
      brian hodge u are so right, and president smith got the heart to come out now with that ridiculous statement, what was she doing all that time when she was president, boy I tell you!
  • Tax Payor (29/12/2015, 09:28) Like (12) Dislike (10) Reply
    So there you go no vet on the track and she has admitted that no work has been carried out on the surface in years. So who is to blame??? Myron has become the biggest nonproductive politician in our history but he has a good public relations and photo taking game
  • VIP Activist (29/12/2015, 09:31) Like (2) Dislike (3) Reply
    Even if the economy is bad ,this government is borrowing and spending money like drunking sailors.Tall boy will now funnel his money through his side kick New President.Fans fasting your seat belts the game will be just like the Cruise Pier..Captain Smith examine your patients they moving like they on Flacka...
  • please investigate (29/12/2015, 09:33) Like (13) Dislike (2) Reply
    No help for the race track, no supplies for schools, no supplies for libery and prison and oh yea we know where the money gone!!!
  • horse racing fan (29/12/2015, 09:42) Like (10) Dislike (0) Reply
    I think like "Johnny" has been suggesting for all these years, we need to turn the track into a Cricket Field... I hate Cricket, but at least things will be done more orderly and horses won't be suffering and dying every race day. These people have no idea what they are doing and the government is not serious about promoting horse racing in the Virgin Islands. You win Johnny, you win..... I give up...
  • Kingfish (29/12/2015, 09:51) Like (6) Dislike (1) Reply
    Now from what Mrs. Arron said Letty and Bob have a case before the court as she has admitted the track surface is in a mess and it could have contributed to the death of the animal
  • It's Quite Simple (29/12/2015, 09:52) Like (10) Dislike (1) Reply
    If I were a horse owner, and cared about my horse, I was not running it again until a professional examined the track and a vet was hired to be on site every race day. In the Virgin Islands (BVI), we make everything seem so complicated. JUST DON'T RUN YOUR HORSES UNTIL THESE THINGS ARE DONE and something will be done... It's that simple. Around here, it seems like we can't do simple common sense things unless we are FORCED to do it. It's quite pathetic...
    • @ It's Quite Simple (29/12/2015, 10:24) Like (10) Dislike (0) Reply

      I agree with you 100%. If Mrs. Hodge could admit that the track was in no condition for horses to be ran on, then why did she run all her horses? Now, something fatal has happened, she wants to blame it on the track, First blame yourself before casting blame. And the last thing I can remember clearly, that same horse had a foot injury sooooo, maybe that horse should have never been running in the first place 

  • let the records show (29/12/2015, 09:52) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    Hon Fraser was the last person who had that track regraded by the contractor who built it.
    • actspectation (29/12/2015, 10:33) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
      Well once they give it to funny man it went to zero
    • wize up (29/12/2015, 10:57) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
      let the records shows; a few days I blogged that the VIP is the political party that cares for the VI people and I got nailed to the cross; its the first time in my life I hear so many people in the territory crying out.
  • Thing to talk (29/12/2015, 11:20) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    When bone go on his talk show he will let them know what time it is
  • simple (29/12/2015, 12:07) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    Don't run your horses until the track is fixed. Why run them knowing the track is unsafe then cry like a baby when they are injured. "I knew the jeep didn't have any brakes but I tried coming down the hill anyway and was so shocked when I ran over the cliff....." WTF?
  • auditor (29/12/2015, 12:11) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    I WILL Audit the Treasury and see who is the Families with the most checks out for 2015.Send me names and hints let me get started..
  • auditor (29/12/2015, 12:23) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Economy bad and the Crabs got over 5 million in loans from National bank and some people can't get a dollar and the bank looking to sell other people land..Audit start now who vex vex.
  • bvi (29/12/2015, 13:06) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    NDP so pre occupied with the H Darley corruption scandal, where will they get time from to deal with the people’s business.
    • +++ (01/01/2016, 12:00) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      The corruption scandal IS the people's business. The same pattern of money loss could also affect racing and any other event in BVI crying for money.
  • wet dirt high fatality rate (29/12/2015, 13:38) Like (3) Dislike (3) Reply
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racehorse_injuries
  • VIP Activist (29/12/2015, 14:01) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    WHERE IS THE Head Coach Miss P.She probably under the Bo hog mango trree on the track sipping on some Johnny Green and CoConut water ,not ah word from her these days..She turn a tourist now..
  • feds (29/12/2015, 16:25) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply

    Hugh Darley turn state witness ,is because of him the project went wrong.The government have no Moneyf or the track is because of people like Hugh Darley who running his mouth like soft sh*t. 25000 a month for doing what running his mouth now and horse owners balling

  • Politico Observer (29/12/2015, 18:41) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Protect horse owners investment and the quality of horse racing in the territory. If the track is in poor condition and government broke and cannot afford to fund maintenance and repair to bring it up to safe race quality, shut the track down until it is in a safe condition for reopening. On another note, if homeowners knew that the track was not in a condition to even race goats, why they risk injury to their horses by letting them run on the track. They should have boycotted the races. Sunday was not best day at Ellis Thomas Downs. Honor and respect the man's name by operating the facility at high standards. Horse racing is in a sordid state. Let's not wait on more euthanizations to act.
  • Truth (29/12/2015, 20:29) Like (2) Dislike (3) Reply
    Patsy lake have a lot a money she can fix it on her own..she has Western Union now running it in her Mall she can do for free
  • Anonymous (30/12/2015, 00:42) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Miss Lake i am going to be holding you in high standard.The track need some serious attention.Their are plenty of guys who would like to invest in horses but afraid of losing their horses,because the track is poorly maintain. Every one need to come together and get the situation resolve,instead of blaming each other.
    • think about it (30/12/2015, 05:43) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
      i dont believe there is a situation going on down there, why is it only a certain stable horses getting they legs broke, so it's either there have real bad luck, if its that, then they should pull out or is it that they are sending sick horses to compete in a class that is high "A" class that is, think about it guys, and as one blogger said, james penn horse went on the track with a hurting leg, it brooked after the race was over, so its not the track, pick sense from nonsence and u will see!
  • Exactly! (30/12/2015, 16:04) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    I could not have said it better. She run a broken down horse and want to blame the track. Look at which horses break their legs. James Penn horse come with an injury and he still run the horse the horse anyway. Miss Lettie know her horse hurting, she still run it, then want to blame the track.
  • Track fix (31/12/2015, 15:00) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Govt shouldn't have anything to do with fixing the track. The horse assoc should be using the money it makes from entrance, stable and track rentals, vendor space rental and sponsorship to maintain the facilities.


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