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Horse Racing Enthusiasts Get Some Positive News

Sen. Samuel Carrión at a Senate hearing last week. (VI Legislature photo)

Sen. Samuel Carrión says that bills passed Sept. 22 by the Senate will help revitalize “the cherished tradition of horse racing in the territory by reestablishing district horse racing commissions and creating regulations for each district.”

Shaine Gaspard, executive vice president of Southland Gaming, also gave a positive report last week about progress at the Clinton E. Phipps racetrack on St. Thomas.

Gaspard emailed the Source, “The speedy progress in constructing the grandstands is a testament to our commitment to promoting growth and development in the Virgin Islands.”

However, phone calls to Jason Williams, general manager of racing operations for VIGL, were not returned. At the end of August, Williams told senators that permit delays were holding up the process at the Randall “Doc” James Racetrack on St. Croix.

At that hearing, Elroy Bates, president of Flamboyant Park Horsemen Association, said the association on St. Croix was “fed up” with VIGL, which he said was playing games and blamed for the permitting delays.

Gaspard said in his email last week, “The Clinton E. Phipps racetrack is poised to become a significant cultural landmark, not only for St. Thomas but for the broader Virgin Islands.”

Carrión, who was the lead sponsor on both bills, said in a press release that Bill 0073 would establish powers and duties for horse racing commissions for each district and deal with the antidoping of racehorses.

“This bill lays the groundwork for rebuilding the Virgin Islands’ horse racing legacy on a solid foundation,” said Carrión.

He said about Bill 0083, which establishes separate horse racing commissions for each district, “By reestablishing district commissions, each district’s unique needs and concerns will be addressed by members who live in that specific jurisdiction. This decentralization restores a practice that was historically in place but was abandoned when a single promoter oversaw both tracks.”

In the press release, Carrión thanked his Senate colleagues for voting in favor of his measures, along with Sen. Franklin Johnson for offering helpful amendments.

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