BIG MONEY UP FOR GRABS Two major changes have been made for the second running of the $13.9 million Diamond Mile to be run on Saturday, December 10 this year. This was announced at the recent launch by CTL’s racing secretary Denzil Miller Jr, following consultations with racing stakeholders and the organisers of the event, the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission and corporate sponsors, including Supreme Ventures Limited. The organisers were responding to concerns among owners and trainers that last year’s inaugural running on December 5 saw the omission of a number of good horses who, despite their form, did not have the requisite lifetime earnings to force their way in the field (first 16). These horses include the Caymanas Invitational Mile winner PHINEAS, Caribbean Sprint Champion POKER STAR, as well as CAMPESINO and the vastly improved filly LONG RUNNING TRAIN. This has prompted two major conditional changes going forward. First of these is that the winners of the Jamaica Derby, the Superstakes, Caribbean Sprint Championship and Invitational Mile will get automatic entry into the race. The second change is that instead of lifetime earnings, the other horses will earn their place based on their year-to-date earnings from January 1, 2016 to December 3. Earnings gained from claiming races will not be considered. This year the race will offer a record $13.9 million (US$115,000) which represents an increase over last year’s purse due mainly to the movement of the Jamaican dollar against the US dollar. Last year, the winner, subsequent ‘Horse of the Year’ SEEKING MY DREAM, received a record $6.5 million, while lucrative purse money was paid to the first 10 past the post, an unprecedented move. In addition, a commemorative trophy valued at $500,000 donated by the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission will be won outright by the owner of the winner, while the winning trainer, jockey, breeder and groom will also receive trophies. The launch, though put on this early for a race scheduled to be run in December, attracted the top executives from related entities, including Cedric Stewart, CEO of Caymanas Track Limited; Paul Hoo, chairman of Supreme Ventures Limited and Gary Peart, chairman of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission who conceived the idea for the Diamond Mile in the summer of last year. In a brief address, Peart said: “The BG&LC is pleased to report on the highly successful inaugural staging of the Diamond Mile , held just seven weeks ago, on Saturday, December 5, 2015, exceeded all expectations. The main objectives of the event were to stimulate growth of the racing sector, to increase revenue for the Government of Jamaica and to attract new target groups to racing, thereby also creating a positive cultural shift for the racing community and I am happy to report we achieved all of that and more. “The record for the highest handle ($66 million) for any one race was broken, so too the record for the most money spent on any one race, despite the fact that the inaugural Diamond Mile was held against competing high-profile events. “The turnout was excellent and all guests enjoyed themselves thoroughly,” said Peart, who disclosed that plans are in the pipeline of creating a five-year plan for the Diamond Mile including a week-long festival of racing. – O.C.