Bigger, better Diamond Mile - Hoo
JAMAICA's top-earning horses, led by Triple Crown winner SHE'S A MANEATER, her 2000 Guineas-winning stablemate, FEARLESS SAMURAI, and other three-year-olds such as classic-placed SOTOMAYOR, have qualified for December's rich Diamond Mile.
However, others, including older horses, are yet to qualify for the third running of the richest and most attractive race in the region, which will pit the best native-breds against imported runners for a whopping US$115,000 purse.
"They will all have to earn their place in the race," Racing Secretary Denzil Miller said at yesterday's launch of the December 2 raceday, which will have prize money of over Ja$1 million for each event on the card on what is expected to be a 14-race card, showcasing exquisite fashion, excellent food and great entertainment.
Paul Hoo, chairman, Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited, promised Diamond Mile 2017 will be bigger and better.
"Through the vision of previous president (Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission), Gary Peart, we came up with the prestigious Diamond Mile concept. We watched it grow since that first staging and continue to work hard to achieve its objective of lifting the stature of the sport in Jamaica," Hoo said, referring to the event as Jamaica's version of United States' Breeders Stakes.
"Over the past two years it has become a much anticipated and highly rated event. Horse racing in Jamaica will be restored to its former glory as the sport of kings, a prestigious event that brings out patrons in their numbers, encourage sponsors to come on board and makes all stakeholders proud," he said.
"An event like this goes a long way to lift the sport of horse racing in Jamaica," Hoo added.
Vitus Evans, executive director, BGLC, said the industry faces challenges in attracting new audiences, but noted that the Diamond Mile has had great success in pulling out crowds.
"The Diamond Mile Raceday has successfully brought more people to Caymanas Park than any other day," he said, adding that the aim is for an even larger crowd this year to witness what will be an exciting day of racing.
Clovis Metcalfe, Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) chairman, said the agency's role in sponsoring the event was critical.
"It is unusual to see a regulator presenting an event such as the Diamond Mile Raceday. At the BGLC we see this as playing a critical role in developing the Jamaican horse racing industry. Our vision is that the BGLC Diamond Mile Raceday will be one of the events that will attract horse racing enthusiasts from around the region and the world," he said.