Sun | May 31, 2020

BGLC drops Diamond Mile

Published:Tuesday | April 7, 2020 | 12:00 AMRobert Bailey/Gleaner Writer
Evans
She’s A Maneater (left) winning the Diamond Mile in 2019 with Omar Walker aboard, ahead of Stranger Danger ridden by Phillip Parchment and Toona Ciliata ridden by Dane Nelson at Caymanas Park.
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THE BETTING, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) will be ending its sponsorship of the prestigious Diamond Mile race day at Caymanas Park, with Executive Director Vitus Evans pointing to financial challenges as the main reason behind the decision.

The Diamond Mile feature offers the richest purse for a single race in the English-speaking Caribbean – US$115,000 (approximately $15 million) in 2018, with the BGLC pumping a total of $80 million towards the execution of the race day.

Although the purse remained at US$115, 000 for the marquee race, the other events around the Diamond Mile race day were scaled down significantly in 2019 to the tune of $30 million.

Evans admitted to The Gleaner that the event has become a very expensive undertaking, and confirmed that his organisation recently advised the promoters of local racing, Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), about its decision to end their association with the event.

“It was one that was questionable in terms of the expenditure of this particular event. But now, I think it would be more difficult to justify our spending on that in this present climate,” said Evans. “In the past, we sponsored it to the tune of about $80 million (2018) when we had the infield experience.”

“(Last year) we decided to support the purse to about $30 million, and we still found that difficult to justify in terms of the amount we spent, and so we had informed SVREL that we won’t be able to sponsor it this year,” Evans shared.

DECISION LONG MADE

He underlined that their decision to end the organisation’s sponsorship of the event was made long before the current coronavirus situation.

“We had indicated even before [the] COVID-19 [pandemic] that we wouldn’t be able to afford it,” Evans said. “However, even if we were to review it and look at that decision again, then it is certainly not possible at all in terms of what is happening with COVID-19.”

In the meantime, Ryan Darby, president of the United Racehorse Trainers’ Association, described the development as a massive blow to the racing industry.

“All the stakeholders are most disappointed that they have withdrawn from the event, because the sport in dying and with this coronavirus, it is not dying slowly, it is dying very fast,” said Darby.

“I think that these funds should be redirected into racing, not necessarily as a Diamond Mile race day, but for the support and the upliftment of racing,” Darby added.

robert.bailey@gleanerjm.com