Race Day Review — Sunday, October 15, 2023
In a recent review in this space, I expressed concern at the general lack of understanding of the nuances of the sport/business of horse racing. Specifically, with reference to the recent increase in the minimum stake for certain categories of bets, there is the impression that this may be unaffordable for many punters and further the odds have been doubled to compensate.
By way of explanation please be advised as follows. In wagers, what is offered in each betting option is totalizator odds multiplying the amount staked for winning. This is calculated by a pari-mutuel formula to declare dividends based on the spread of funds in the pool after predetermined deductions for tax purposes, purses and promoters’ gross profit.
With respect to affordability of bets, this will not be an issue as the overwhelming majority of punters spend far more than the minimum stake on the bets stipulated recently. I am prepared to wager substantially there will be no decrease in sales. In fact, there will be a small increase in turnover. Between the promoting company and the regulatory Jamaica Racing Commission not enough is being done to decrease the knowledge deficit gulf which continues to widen and become more deeply entrenched.
With a stagnant racing product lacking in simplicity, horse racing no longer has mass appeal, rendering the promoters to cater to a niche market clientèle wagering on local as well as race meets held outside of Jamaica. There can be no question this is so in a market where the racing product enjoys monopoly status, but the annual promoter’s gross gaming revenue is yet to approach $8.0 billion.
With the doubling of Off-Track-Betting points of sales and the availability of telephone accounts wagering options since 2017, attendance at the track has been hallowed out and as usual there was eerie silence prior to the start of the opening event.
Favourite at 2-5 Ali, saddled by Adrian Prince and ridden by Javaniel Patterson, galloped in a length and a half ahead of nine rivals to claim the largest portion of the purse available for winning the 1,100-metre contest.
In the second of the carded nine events, this one over 1,300 metres, champion Dane Dawkins rode the first of two winners in partnering maiden Empress Nakelia (4-5) for trainer Robert French.
Race three, run at 1,000 metres round and restricted to two-year-old maidens, had a winning debutant in the form of Run Julie Run, schooled by Ian Parsard and piloted by former six-time champion Omar Walker.
In race four, contested over 1,000 metres on the round course, favourite Custer at 1-2, saddled by 2023 licensee Saqlain Roman for his first career success and was the first of two winners for brother Raddesh Roman.
In the 1,600-metre race five, champion and current table-topper Jason DaCosta saw his maiden colt Mo Aviator (Phillip Parchment) best eight rivals to return odds of 2-1.
Piloted by Tevin Foster, Neo Star (3-1), from the Peter-John Parsard outfit, was the first of three winners confirming progressive form on the day. After four appearances, this was success number three for Neo Star, who was imported from the US in utero. Following two wide-margin victories on this occasion the colt his gameness was tested over the 1,400 metres of race six as he finished just one length ahead of the nearest of his 13 rivals.
Declared by Damon Gayle, consistent six-year-old mare Sensational Satin (2-5), ridden by three-kilogramme claimer Richard Henry, came home nearly six lengths ahead the seven-horse field contesting the seventh event run over 800 metres of the straight course.
A comfortable near four-length defeat of a hugely competitive field, Desert Of Malibu (USA), an impressively conformed four-year-old chestnut filly, who had one US race before she was imported, controlled the pace of the 1,000 metres straight of race eight to remain undefeated in two starts locally.
Ridden by Dawkins to close a riding double, she demonstrated with this confirmation of progressive form, this Gary Subratie conditioned, burly and talented American-bred, looks to be firmly on a path to the Graded Stakes level.
In terms of progressive form, winner of the featured 1,600-metre Errol ‘Big Sub’ Memorial Trophy Rani Bangala (12-1) was most convincing. She has impressed by winning her last three appearances in good style.
However, even her most optimistic supporter, which would naturally include trainer Robert Pearson and winning jockey Raddesh Roman closing a double, could have expected a 16-length runaway competing at the Overnight Allowance level for the first time.
The Training Feat Award is presented to Pearson for the spectacular improvement in the form of Rani Bangala to execute the Best Winning Gallop. The Jockeyship Award goes to champion Dawkins, who in a virtual match with leading reinsman Reyan Lewis (Hunza), kept Empress Nakelia focused to better his chief rival’s mount by a head.