Really Uptown runs to victory in the fourth race.Photo: DAVID?HELDRETH

Although horse racing has become part of the “fabric” of the Virgin Islands, the territory doesn’t have a policy to set out how to strategically develop the sport, Education and Culture Minister Myron Walwyn said Thursday during House of Assembly.

A scene from the 2012 Diamond Jubilee races at Ellis Thomas Downs. Photo: BEACON FILE

Mr. Walwyn said that it’s high time this changed.

“The time has come to think of horse racing in a different light,” he said. “It is not just a sport. It is an industry that has remained disorganised and underdeveloped. Is it not time for there to be a business case and a business development plan for horse racing?”

Mr. Walwyn explained that horse owners, with some government assistance, have made incremental improvements at Ellis Thomas Downs, but that the facility needs “a significant injection of cash” to complete needed improvements.

In short, Mr. Walwyn said, the current system “is not sustainable.”

He added that the ministry intends to establish a horse racing commission that would be responsible for registering horses and setting out appropriate rules “for the proper functioning of horse racing and the operations of the horse courses.”

The commission could also be tasked with managing parimutuel betting, which he acknowledged is a “ticklish” issue, but should be discussed and considered carefully as a potential source of funds to sustain horse racing in the long term.

See the Sept. 10, 2010 edition for full coverage.