It’s been a while.
Since I’ve been away, the latest public obsession has been with the spectre of unchecked profligacy at some public sector agencies conveniently summarized by the word “Petroscam”.
But this isn’t an isolated problem with how public sector entities are structured and operated. We have examples in horse racing/betting where, for example, three separate Commissions, set up under three separate Statutes, are required to regulate racing and gambling in a tiny Island with a population of less than 3 million.
Willy-nilly spending is also not limited to Petrojam/PCJ/NeSol. For four years now a relatively new spectacle called the BGLC/SVL Diamond Mile has held centre stage at Caymanas Park. It’s an excellent example of the right idea implemented atrociously and funded questionably. So, welcome to Jamrock!
I’ve written before about the race’s awkward scheduling 3 weeks after what should be the season’s premiere event, the Superstakes, where champions are crowned. Now the Superstakes is just a prep for the Diamond Mile because that race offers a humongous purse of $14 million. The scheduling also ensures that three year-olds, already the subject of a grueling classic season AND a ten furlong Superstakes, are effectively eliminated from contention unless there’s a very special candidate.
Now I read the JRC Chairman is quoted as saying the race should be rescheduled to October. Seriously? How on earth will that help? Oh, I know. He was quoted in the Observer (November 6): “This will allow horses of quality to participate in the Caribbean Classic. ……we are going to push back the date (for the Diamond Mile) to October. You will find horses coming from the Caribbean and they could probably stay over, enter the Superstakes and then move on to the Caribbean Classic.”
DWL! Holding the same number of grueling events in the same time frame but shuffling the schedule slightly will ensure horses can go to the Caribbean Classic. Now it’s announced the race is to be run on November 9. Somebody must be high! The race should be held at end of March when the previous year’s three year olds have been freshened up and can run as four years olds. The elimination of this race from the last quarter calendar will contribute to Caribbean Classic potential (much more will also be needed if THAT is the objective) AND give everyone a fair chance at the Diamond Mile.
But only if we can afford it. Right now the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) is co-sponsor of the race to the tune of at least $5 million per annum. This is, in my opinion, an abuse of public funds of Petroscammic proportions. BGLC’s only statutory authority is to “regulate and control the operation of betting and gaming and the conduct of lotteries in the island” [Betting Gaming and Lotteries Act, section 5(1)]. It’s also “to carry out such functions as are assigned to it by…..this Act” or any other Act. No such other function is assigned.
For this purpose, BGLC is empowered (section 5):
- To examine problems relating to the operation of betting and gaming and the conduct of lotteries in the island;
- To furnish information and advice to the Minister to help him carry out his functions; and
- To make investigations and surveys to assist in the said information and advice
Under section 28, the Minister may make schemes for the spending of taxes collected by Bookmakers for:
- improvement of breeds of horses;
- advancement of veterinary science;
- improvement of horse racing;
- improvement of athletic games and sports;
- contribution to purses in connection with horse races run on approved race courses;
- Racing Commission funding;
- Anti-doping programmes
Unless the Minister provides for it in a scheme (Subsidiary legislation) that allows Bookies’ taxes to be so spent there’s no authority to spend taxpayers money on purses. Even under a Ministerial scheme, there’s no authority for the industry’s regulator to sponsor specific races or help private sector corporate marketing. It’s at least unseemly. There’s no authority for the BGLC to unilaterally spend its funds on anything but regulation.
So, where’s the Diamond Mile sponsorship funds (about $20 million cumulatively to date) coming from? Is it from the Bookmakers Levy Scheme? BGLC, please give full and frank disclosure as to the authority under which this money is being spent to promote a race now promoted by private enterprise and also to assist in the marketing of a private sector corporation. BGLC seems so involved in this race that its Chairman commented after 2018’s renewal that certain horses oughtn’t to be in the race. Oh, dear.
This regular review of local performances is based on REAL times.
Abbreviations: CT = “Corrected Time”; TV = “Track Variant” (a calculation of the effect of track conditions on official times to arrive at “real” or “corrected” times); TVs are in fifths of a second; “minus” means a fast track; “plus” a slow track (e.g. -2 means fast by 2/5ths of a second). Variants beside horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.
Again, it’s been a minute….
February 16, 2019 [TV-0 (Rd) +2 (Jamal James; Bullet Raj); -1 (Adonis)]
Race 9 (4yonw2; 1000m round) is a KEY RACE!
GOLDEN DESTINY (-5) produced a nice change of pace; stalking then staying on well to win by 1 1/4l from FORMAL GLADIATOR (-4) and PARAJET (-3). The winner’s time (1:00.2) is 3/5ths sec faster than nw3 so he can win again maybe even over 1100 or 1200m. Losses on the 2nd/3rd (4/5ths/3/5ths faster than the grade) are only lent.
SEA SWAN (-9) hacked up after 4 months off (R4; 4yonw2; 1000m round) by 8 lengths in 1:07.3! This equals Overnight Allowance standard so she’s a filly to follow!
SWEET LIKE AUGAR (-5) wore down SOUL CURE (-5) in a head-bob (R8; 3yomsw; 1100m) both clocking 1:07.3 which is 2/5ths second faster than nw2. The 2nd (disqualified) is a cinch next time. The winner looks to have plenty in the tank especially over further.
MADAM SECRETARY (-4) improved markedly (R2; 4yonw3/OT; 1200m) to beat howling favourite EL PROFESOR (-3) in 1:12.4 which also equals Overnight Allowance standard. The winner is a June foal so is still a 3yo in reality and at a stage of rapid improvement. The 2nd’s time (1:13.0) is 3/5ths second faster than the grade so compensation awaits.
As a bonus for waiting so patiently, here are some Horses to Follow for 2019:
DUKE [3yo gr.c Casual Trick – Lady Macbeth (Bop)] Another late foal (May 15) who has shown an abundance of stamina and is gradually improving. He’s the sort to come on again when trying two turns and is one for the Derby short list
ENVISAGED [3yo gr.f Fearless Vision – Alpha Lupa (Wolf Power)] A filly with scope, promise and obviously a thorough stayer who is a serious Oaks candidate. Sure to win at least a maiden on her way there.
DRONE STRIKE [4yo b.g Sorrentino – Santa Baby (Touch Gold)] has been in a lengthy slump since his 2018 Derby win but that was no fluke and has shown on his return that he’s steadily heading in the right direction especially over a woefully inadequate 1000m straight on last. He has races to win this year.
Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)
English racing is back after a break to combat equine flu but the standard isn’t great so, in future columns, we’ll focus on the lead up to the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National where my early fancy is BLAKLION who fell at the first fence last year and will be returning with the proverbial blood in his eye. He’s currently generally available at 33/1.
In the meantime the PGA Tour schedule has been reshuffled to accommodate the Olympics every four years and Fedex Cup play-offs having more separation from the Majors. This year’s PGA Championship has been brought forward to May 16 and the final Major is now The Open (Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland this year). The Masters (April 11) is still the year’s first Major and, although Augusta doesn’t suit his favoured fade, RORY McILROY seems more determined than ever to close the career slam and has been playing almost exclusively on the PGA Tour for that reason. He should be hard to beat although Aussie Jason Day is sure to have something to say while triple digit outsider Li Haotong from China is a young golfer of immense talent who has all the makings of a future Major Champion.
A Notebook horse for you to put in your Cheltenham portfolio:
PRESENTING PERCY [8yo b.g Sir Percy-Hunka Munka (Presenting)] ticks all the boxes required to be a Gold Cup winner. He’s a second season chaser (14 of the last 28 Gold Cups have been won by second season chasers) who won last year’s RSA Chase (9 Gold Cup winners since 1980 contested the RSA) and is a most progressive chaser whose preparation has been spot on.