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An Economic Analysis of the Horse Racing Industry in Trinidad and Tobago.

This article highlights the issues afflicting the horse racing industry in Trinidad and Tobago, where it has been "part and parcel" of the nation's sporting history since 1828, when ad hoc race meetings were held. However, it has long been neglected by policymakers; and the removal of the Trinidad Turf Club's sweepstakes without due compensation has been cited as one such example of this neglect (Miller 2018). Additionally, horse racing is currently classified as an industry, not a sport; falling as it does under the Ministry of Industry and Trade. No discussion has been had about its inclusion as part of a national sports tourism policy. T&T can look to Barbados as a model since it has done an excellent job of marketing horse racing as part of its tourism product. Policymakers can take heed of their neighbour in this regard.

As such, there is a need to conduct an economic analysis of the local horse racing industry as its popularity has been declining, following a global trend, as many racetracks struggle to find new revenue streams. The local industry faces direct competition from lottery games offered under the auspices of the National Lotteries Control Board, and private betting shops, as well as private members' clubs (casinos). It also faces stiff competition from other providers of entertainment (including the islands' many shopping malls and entertainment complexes such as Movie Towne). No economic studies of the horse racing industry have ever been commissioned, and the most recent literature written on it was by Cozier and Robertson (1993), and Hadeed (2007).

This article begins with a brief history of the sport from both a global and local perspective. It then analyses key trends for the local horse racing industry, including the annual yearling sale, a critical bellwether for assessing its health. Additionally, the betting revenues of the Arima Race Club are compared with its direct competitors, the private betting shops. Purse structures and registrations of key personnel (i.e. owners, trainers, and grooms) are evaluated, and recommendations are made for the future development of the "sport of kings" in Trinidad and Tobago.

Early History of the 'Sport of Kings'

Horse racing, affectionately referred to as the "sport of kings", has existed since time immemorial, making it one of the oldest in history. Its basic concept developed from a primitive contest of speed or stamina between two horses, and these were standard fixtures of the Olympic Games held in Greece over the period 700-40 BCE. Horse racing was a well-organised form of public entertainment during the Roman Empire, although not much is known about its early history in China, Persia, Arabia, other Middle Eastern countries and North Africa. Arabian, Barb, and Turk horses took part in the earliest European races as imports brought by those fighting in the Crusades (Encyclopaedia Britannica 2015).

The concept became popular as an organised sport in England during the reign of King Charles II, (1) although racing also occurred during previous reigns. (2) Charles II inaugurated the King's Plates and established the earliest framework of national racing rules. It was under his patronage that the world-famous Newmarket was set up as the "headquarters of English racing". Both France and North America first held race meetings during the seventeenth century. The first documented race in France took place in 1651. Gambling on races became prevalent during the reign of King Louis XVI, who later organised a Jockey Club and established rules for racing. Meanwhile, racing in North America began in 1664 during the British occupation of New Amsterdam (now New York City) with Colonel Richard Nicholls building one of the first tracks in the US in Long Island (Encyclopaedia Britannica 2015).

Eligibility rules were developed based on the age, sex, birthplace and previous performance of horses and the qualifications of riders. The owners were the riders (gentlemen riders), in which the field was restricted geographically to a township or county, and in which only horses that had not won more than a certain amount could be entered. An act of the British Parliament of 1740 provided that entered horses had to be the bona fide property of the owners; (3) horses had to be certified with regards to their age; and there were penalties for rough riding (Encyclopaedia Britannica 2015). These aspects of the 1740 Act remain essential components of modern-day rules of racing in all jurisdictions with organised horse racing.

Global Horse Racing in the Modern Age

Modern horse racing has evolved into a billion-dollar industry globally. A prime example of its impact can be found in Great Britain, home to the iconic Newmarket racecourse. A 2013 Deloitte report on British horse racing estimated the industry's total economic impact in 2012 (i.e. its total direct and indirect expenditure) to be [pounds sterling]3.45 billion, while its direct expenses and tax contribution were [pounds sterling]1.1 billion and [pounds sterling]275 million respectively. Furthermore, the report stated that it had a core industry employment of 17,400 workers in 2012, while direct, indirect and associated employment totalled 85,200 employees (Deloitte and The British Horseracing Authority 2013, 4).

The economic impacts of highly developed horse racing industries in countries such as the United States of America are expected to be similar to Great Britain's. A look at the betting turnovers for the global industry shows robustness in the gambling on horse racing in a number of countries. The 2014 Annual Report of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities estimated total betting turnover from fifty-three racing jurisdictions (4) to be [euro]95.19 billion. On average, the betting turnover for the forty countries (5) surveyed was [euro]2.38 billion.

The endearing charm of horse racing is that the sport and its athletes still captivate millions of fans. The Triple Crown races (the Kentucky Derby, (6) the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes) and the Breeder's Cup race days are annual events that draw racehorses, each entering for the chance to "hit it big". Each of these events has evolved into week-long extravaganzas with events being held in the build-up to the actual race day. The Royal Ascot Meeting held in June is a must-attend event on many a Brit's social calendar.

The illustrious careers of Seabiscuit and Secretariat were immortalised in Hollywood films. Indeed, Secretariat's thirty-length demolition of his Belmont Stakes opponents in 1973 is still considered by many racing enthusiasts as the greatest race in history, being his third in five weeks. Secretariat graced the covers of Time Magazine, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated. In 2015, the racing annals crowned American Pharoah (7) as its twelfth Triple Crown winner, a feat not achieved since Affirmed defeated Alydar by a short-head in the 1978 Belmont Stakes to complete an historic hattrick. "Pharoah" would later complete the newly dubbed "Grand Slam of Racing" by romping to victory in the Breeder's Cup Classic on October 31. (8)

The Savannah and Santa Rosa Park's Place in Racing

A seminal work on this subject is Memories of the Turf: The History of Horse Racing in Trinidad and Tobago (1993), by John Derek Cozier (9) and Andre Robertson. It gives an extensive account of the history of the industry prior to its centralisation in Santa Rosa Park, Arima. Before centralisation, the calendar comprised "race meetings" at various racecourses throughout the country.

The first organised race day took place at the Queen's Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain on Monday October 27, 1828. However, match races had been held from as early as the late eighteenth century, even before the British occupation of 1797. Cozier and Robertson (1993) noted that the French plantocracy kept horses specifically for festive occasions when they were matched against each other. Races were held on Paradise Pastures in the south; on the 'Plains of Lapeyrouse' in Port-of-Spain; and at Petit Trou Beach in Tobago (10) during the early nineteenth century (Cozier and Robertson 1993, 7-10).

By 1852, moves were made to formalise racing in the south, and at least one race day was held, but there was disagreement among enthusiasts in San Fernando which resulted in an abandonment of the rest of the meeting. The club in Port-of-Spain introduced stakes racing in early 1853, including the St. Ann's Stakes, with a two-day meeting on January 6 and 7.

Racing in Arima began in 1874 when, as Cozier and Robertson noted, "the wealthiest men in the 'richest town in the West Indies' staged a race meeting to coincide with the annual Santa Rosa Festival" (Cozier and Robertson 1993, 10). They further noted that there was strident resistance to keep the sport out of the festival from traditionalists and the religious community. The popularity of racing in Arima soared, with assistance from the expansion of the railway route to the town in 1876. The meetings were held at the Arima Savannah around the "barrel hoop". Although there was a slight hiccup in 1904, with a split in the membership leading to meetings at the Macoya Savannah, a reunited Arima Turf Club became affiliated with the Trinidad Turf Club in 1921 by agreeing to adhere to the latter's rules (Cozier and Robertson 1993, 10-12).

After 69 years of regular race meetings at the Queen's Park Savannah, a new Trinidad Turf Club (TTC) was formed after "more than 40 years of continuous change and disagreements among the principals which affected the sport and on more than one occasion almost brought racing to a halt" (Cozier and Robertson 1993, 12). Before 1897, three different clubs were the organisers: the TTC, the Queen's Park Race Club, and the Port of Spain Race Committee. The first day's racing under the aegis of the new club was held on Wednesday, December 29, 1897.

Racing in the south finally started in 1897 when its venue shifted from San Fernando to Union Park, Marabella. This was short-lived, as heavy losses at the 1902 meeting bankrupted the club. A successful boycott was staged due to the club's refusal to cancel the Whit meeting as a mark of respect after Mt. Pelee erupted in Martinique. However, a new Union Park Turf Club was established in 1922, despite several false starts, twenty years after the bankruptcy of its last meeting (Cozier and Robertson 1993, 12). Racing in Tobago by 1930 had shifted base from Petit Trou beach to Shirvan Park on lands owned by the Latour family. The left-handed course in Shirvan Park was the only one in the country, and was host to the racing community for fifty-four years before a fire destroyed the plant in the run-up to the 1984 House of Assembly elections. Racing has been discontinued in Tobago (Cozier and Robertson 1993, 13).

Unity became an important theme as all the existing clubs agreed to accept the Trinidad Turf Club as the ruling body of racing. Cozier and Robertson described the forties and fifties as "the golden era" of racing, which continued into the sixties. The roll call of champions fondly remembered by the authors included Gleneagle, Brown Bomber, Jetsam, Ras Taffare, Pippin, Ocean Pearl, Bright Light, Hairoun, Airofaith, Brown Bread, Musketoon II, Ligan, Sugar Lady, Assured, Mentone, Westend and Young Turnabout. Cozier and Robertson opined that these gifted creatures were capable of "bringing out the fans and churning out the performances of which legends are made" (Cozier and Robertson 1993,13).

Structure of the Local Industry

While the more developed countries currently stage race days on a near-daily basis, in Trinidad they are generally held weekly. Three organisations are mainly responsible for administration of the sport--the Arima Race Club (ARC), the Trinidad and Tobago Racing Authority (TTRA) and the Betting Levy Board (BLB).

The ARC has responsibility for promotion of the sport, the staging of race days and the maintenance of the country's only active race track at Santa Rosa Park. The public can bet with the ARC on local races via four methods:

1. by attending races;

2. by betting through its off-track betting shops;

3. by opening a telephone betting account; and

4. more recently, by opening an MBet account.

The organisation is also charged with seeking sponsorship from corporate Trinidad for the major race days, and is responsible for collection of race day entries.

The TTRA is responsible for administering the rules of racing and ensuring the integrity of the sport, as well as registration of all industry personnel. Key activities that fall under its remit include registration of horses' names, owners' racing colours, and racehorses for breeding. It represents the first point of entry for any person interested in being involved with the sport.

The BLB is charged by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago with the collection of betting taxes from the Arima Race Club and the private betting shops and their remittance to the Treasury. Currently, it also provides funding to the ARC because it is experiencing financial difficulties.

Other stakeholder groups include the Racehorse Owners' Association of Trinidad and Tobago, the Stud Farm Association of Trinidad and Tobago, the Trainers' Association, and key personnel such as jockeys, grooms and exercise lads.



The industry data collected were all from secondary sources. (11) Firstly, an analysis of the local breeding industry looks at the number of stallions and covered mares using the Sire and Mare Returns Lists published by the TTRA. Any analysis would provide some insight into whether local breeders are investing in their breeding stock. Positive trends in investment could bode well for the industry's future, as the offspring represent the future racing stock.

Additionally, the bellwether of the local breeding industry is the Stud Farm Association's annual yearling sale, where one can purchase unraced, locally bred horses from the top breeding operations. An analysis of its performance is essential. The data for the sale, which was taken from the association's website, (12) comprised annual aggregate figures from the sale for the period 1987-2016. These indicators included the number of lots entered in the sale, the number of lots that passed through the sale, the number of lots sold, the total dollar value of the lots sold, the average price of lots sold, and the highest price fetched. (13) The data is collected for the timeframe for which the sale has been in existence.

The next indicator is based on annual data on the betting turnover from the Betting Levy Board. Data on betting is currently available from 2001 to 2016, including a breakdown of betting revenues for the ARC and private betting shops. Just to note, the revenues for the latter were estimated from the taxes collected, found within the Betting Levy Board's Financial Statements. The tax on Private betting shops currently stands at 10% of the reported betting revenues, which is then collected by the Betting Levy Board. For this article, the estimated betting revenues for these entities were derived by multiplying by ten. Evaluation of this indicator is important as it represents the 'lifeblood' that funds the entire industry, which currently survives on the betting revenues received from its punters (i.e. customers) and the "good graces" of the Betting Levy Board (in the form of subventions). An evaluation of the industry's revenue streams is vital to developing a coherent plan for steering it towards a more prosperous path.

Data on revenues collected by the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) and private members' clubs has proven difficult to collect. These entities currently are not mandated to publish publicly and their audited financial statements are not available. The main sources of this data were from McCree (2009) (14) and the Auditor General of Trinidad and Tobago's Statements of Accounts. The NLCB games and unregulated casinos are among the main competitors for the gambling dollar that the horse racing industry is seeking.

Annual gross purse statistics and the total number of race days were collected from the TTRA for the period 2001 to 2016. The average purse statistics were then estimated for the same reported period by dividing the gross purse by the number of race days. The two purse statistics provide an aggregate value of prize money received by owners during the 16-year period. Additionally they are also valuable as a policy evaluation tool as owners bear the risk when investing in the industry. While the author does recognise the current recession in T&T, no real traction with regards to solving the sector's problems will occur if these indicators are trending in the wrong direction.

Finally annual registration statistics from the TTRA were also collected for the same period (2001-2016). The categories of registration cover the personnel who work or are involved in the industry such as the owners, trainers, jockeys and grooms. A snapshot of the total number of jockeys and trainers who have operated in the industry during the first quarter of 2017 will be included. Analysis in this area is vital as the survival of any entity depends on its available human capital.


The methodology of the article is descriptive in nature and relies heavily on charts (mainly clustered column and line) and data tables to illustrate the trends within the industry. Further to this, all currency-based data for the yearling sales and betting turnover is adjusted for inflation, using national Consumer Price Index (CPI) data. The CPI data was derived from the International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook Database. (15) The data is converted to 2016 Purchasing Power Parity dollars, by multiplying the annual variable by the conversion factor. This factor is calculated by dividing the 2016 CPI level with each respective year's CPI within the reported time-frame. For example, all 2001 data would be adjusted by dividing the 2016 CPI level with its 2001 counterpart. This method provides a basis for proper evaluation of the industry's key economic indicators and an overall picture of its health.

While the use of charts and data tables may seem simplistic, they are useful in identifying trouble areas, as negative trends become self-evident upon inspection. Declines in betting turnover result in less funds for day-to-day operations and future initiatives. Lower betting revenues also result in depressed purses which suppresses demand for local horses. Reduced demand for locally bred horses at the yearling sale would be a clear warning signal that the industry is ailing. This would, in turn, have a knock-on effect with local breeders curtailing or downsizing their operations, thereby reducing the supply of future generations of racehorses. Lower registrations for trainers and jockeys are clear indicators of a declining talent pool from which the industry can draw. As such, any combination would be detrimental to the long-term stability and vitality of local horse racing. The industry has been suffering with regard to these key aspects for some time. In the following analysis the breeding industry and the yearling sale are evaluated, then trends in the gambling industry, purse structures and registration statistics are examined.

Trends in the Breeding Industry

The local thoroughbred breeding industry is comprised of stud farms that own or house (on behalf of clients) stallions (males) and broodmares (females). Every year, owners of broodmares select a stallion for their mare. Once the mating results in a pregnancy, the broodmare owner pays a stud fee to the stallion owner. A live foal is born the following year which allows for another mating. The broodmare owner has two options regarding the maintenance of the foal (barring catastrophic injury). Firstly, it can be maintained until October of his first year, at which point, the owner can make the foal available for sale in the Stud Farm Association's annual yearling sale; or he can maintain the foal to age two, when it becomes eligible to begin its racing career. One can imagine the time and resources that goes into making such a venture successful.

The industry is in steep decline, as evidenced by Figure 1 which shows a precipitous drop in the number of broodmares. (16) This number fell continually from a high of 381 in 2006 to a low of 135. Also of great concern is that 2016 represented the first year in which the number of live foals bred locally dropped below the 100 benchmark (see Figure 1). If no steps are taken to arrest this trend, the industry may not be able to host any race days in the future, due to a chronic shortage in the racehorse population.

The breeding industry in T&T has fought a losing battle for years against two factors--a dramatic hike in real estate prices and a lack of incentives for investors. Inflated housing prices have resulted in stud farm owners cashing in on their land investments. One such example was the Rancho Caballero Stud Farm, (17) previously located at La Resource Road in D'Abadie, which is now a government housing development. The ghosts of the failed Caroni Racing Complex continue to haunt the industry as the "houses before horses" outlook once again prevailed.

However, this is a result of the deteriorating economics of operating a stud farm locally. While one cannot blame farm owners for cashing in, one must ask why more is not being done to address the situation. Baptiste (2015) stated that it was tough for local stud farms to be commercially successful and cited a lack of incentives for breeders. Current incentives on offer are not encouraging. The amounts paid in foal subsidies (as seen in Figure 2) has declined since 2008. Further to this, the Betting Levy Board suspended the payment of mare subsidies (18) from 2008 to 2011, which would have negatively impacted on the broodmare population. It is noteworthy that while the amount of breeder and sire premiums increased significantly (19) from 2012, premiums paid within the last three years have stagnated (as seen in Figure 2).

Trends in the Stud Farm Association's annual yearling sale (1987-2016)

Since its inception in 1987, the annual yearling sale (20) has experienced varying degrees of success using differing market indicators. More than 2,400 horses passed through the auction ring, while approximately 1,600 sold at an average price of just under TT$34,000 and a total market value of TT$56.5 million. (21) The total cost of sales toppers throughout the years was TT$3.121 million, at an average price of TT$104,016.67. A summary breakdown of the sales data is provided in Table 1.

Estimations show that the "real" average sales price was a little over TT$57,000 and that the real value of total sales was TT$137.37 million. The real total value of sales toppers throughout the years was TT$7.26 million. A summary breakdown of the sales data adjusted for inflation is provided in Table 2.

Supply-side (Number of Lots)

A comparison of three differing periods in the life cycle of the sale yields mixed results (see Table 3). The total and the average number of lots in the catalogue during the 1997-2006 period declined from the corresponding 1987-1996 period. The total number of lots fell by 74 while the average number of lots in the catalogue fell from 99 in the 1987-1996 period to 92 in the 1997-2006 period. However, the 2007-2016 period saw improvements in both indicators over the 1997-2006 period. The number of lots in the catalogue increased by 183, while the average number over the same period rose from 92 to 110. The number of lots passing through the sales ring declined from 848 (1987-1996) to 787 (1997-2006) to 771 (2007-2016). (22)

Currently, the number of lots (both in the catalogue and passing through the ring) have been on a downward trend since 2007. It is noted that 2015 was perplexing with regards to interpreting the market signals. The number of lots in the catalogue in 2015 (108) improved slightly over its 2014 total (104), although it represents a decline of approximately 23 percent from its 2007 total (141). However, there is concern over the number of lots that are passing through the ring. The figures for this market indicator during the period 2013-2015 were 88 (2013), 72 (2014) and 57 (2015) respectively. This represented a decline of approximately 35 percent over the three-year period. In 2015, there were 51 withdrawals from the sale by the consigners. The following year was no better, as 27 lots were withdrawn from the 2016 sale, which only had 84 in total. The most likely explanation for the inordinately high number of withdrawals from both sales was that there was either some deaths; private sales were transacted before the day of the sales, or owners of yearlings preferred to keep them for racing purposes rather than sell them. However, another reason for withdrawal could have been the owners did not feel that their offerings would have attracted prices that would have been economically feasible. In any event, there is a need to develop strategies to ensure that the number of offerings does not continue its downward trend.

Sales Indicators

Sales trends suggest that demand for the offerings had increased during the period 1987-2007. Sales were especially strong in 1990 and 2007, when 83 and 86 horses were sold respectively in the auction. It is interesting to note that there were two periods during which sales were buoyant and positively trending: 1992-1997 and 2001-2007. Indeed, sales during these two periods accounted for 49.1 percent of all yearlings sold during the lifespan of the auction. Sales during the 1992-1997 period were most likely attributed to factors surrounding the initial years of centralisation at Santa Rosa Park. In the build-up to centralisation in 1994, a palpable excitement could be felt in the industry over its prospects. Stakeholders were highly optimistic that it was heading into prosperous times. This optimism manifested itself in the increased sales experienced from 1994 to 1997. Increases in race purses, especially the local Triple Crown events, (23) most likely fuelled the heightened demand for locally bred yearlings during the 2001-2007 period.

However, demand has declined since 2007. There have been 465 yearlings sold at the auction since then--twenty less than during 2001-2007. The importation of Jamaican-bred yearlings is the central factor behind this phenomenon, due to the perception that they are stronger and more athletic than T&T's at this stage of their development. This perception has also been bolstered by the domination of Jamaican-bred horses in the local Triple Crown races since 1998 when Terremoto won both the Jamaican and Trinidad Derbies. (24)

As seen in Figure 3, the number of offerings sold, as a percentage of lots that passed through the sale, averaged 69 percent throughout the lifespan of the sale. In 2004, 95 percent of the offerings sold. Figure 3 provides a comparison of these indicators for three distinct periods: 1987-1996, 1997-2006, and 2007-2015.

The total sales values for each year has endured a rollercoaster ride in its fortunes as depicted in Figure 4. It also illustrates the upward direction of the trend line from 1993 to 2007. (25) However, an observed "peaks and valleys" pattern occurs after 2007. Sales declined from 2007 to 2010 (26) before recovering to post increases from 2011 to 2013. Total sales rose by approximately 31 percent in 2011, 35 percent in 2012 and 6.5 percent in 2013. However, 2014 to 2016 saw marked declines in sales with totals of TT$2.067 million, TT$1.968 million and TT$1.354 million. (27)

The average price spent, as well as the sales topper's prices, have trended upwards throughout the life of the yearling sale (as seen in Figure 5). From 1987 to 2002, the average price paid for a horse in each of the years ranged from TT$4,800 to TT$25,000. It is interesting to note that the highest price paid for a yearling before 2001 did not cross the TT$100,000 mark. The closest was in 1995 when the sale topper sold for TT$95,000. Indeed, a buyer purchased the sale topper in 2001 for the bargain price of TT$31,000. The sale enjoyed a watershed moment in 2002, as it was the first sale held locally with a sales topper selling for more than TT$100,000. (28) Since then, the sales topper for each of the following years sold for TT$100,000 or more. Landmark moments came in 2012 and 2013 with the average sale price in 2012 being $48,940.30, the highest ever attained, while the 2013 event saw the highest price ever paid for a yearling-$195,000.

After Adjustment for Inflation: Demand (Sales) Indicators

Based on the evidence illustrated in Figure 4, the primary sales indicators, after being adjusted for inflation, trended downward with a brief period of growth during the majority of the first decade of the new millennium (2001-2007). It also shows that real total sales experienced growth spurts from 1988 to 1990 as well as from 2001 to 2007. In the first instance, its real figures jumped from TT$2.227 million to TT$11.248 million in 1990. (29) After this, there was an extended period of volatility (1995-2000) as the total sales figures alternated between gains and losses during that contentious period. The 2001-2007 period saw real sales increase until 2004, before plateauing (2005-2007). However, real sales trended downward throughout the remaining years (2008-2015), although there was a brief yet muted recovery from 2011to 2013. Real sales figures declined by approximately 45 percent in 2014 and by 12 percent in 2015. (30) Despite this, the annual percentage change in real total sales throughout the lifetime of the yearling sale was 7.29 percent. It is, however, disconcerting that the industry's main sale has been on a downward slide for the better part of a decade.

What is interesting to note is the cyclical nature of the sales, as there is volatility in the real average price during the first six years. A steep decline (31) during the second year of the sale was followed by increases of approximately 8 percent and 16 percent in 1989 and 1990. There were sharp declines of 32 percent and 18 percent respectively, in the average prices for 1991 and 1992. While there was some volatility, the general trend for real average prices during the period 1993-2004 was positive and upwards. However, there has been a reversal in fortunes since 2005, with real average prices declining by an average of 6 percent per annum. The real sales topper's prices trended downward from 1987 to 2001. Indeed, the average real price grew significantly during the 2002-2004 period, as it reached approximately TT$372,000 in 2004. A period of steady decline occurred from 2005 to 2010, followed by a brief resurgence from 2011 to 2013. However, there have been declines over the last three years for this indicator (see Figure 5).

Trends in the Gambling Industry

The trends in the betting turnover of the Arima Race Club give cause for concern (see Figure 6). The good news is that the nominal figures increased over the review period (2001-2016) with gross betting from live attendance at the track being a major factor. Simulcast betting (i.e. the option whereby punters are allowed to bet on racehorses that are running at foreign racetracks) (32) has also seen its contribution to betting turnover increase over the same period. However, a review of the real turnover figures suggests that the ARC's revenues are not keeping up with inflation. This is evidenced by declines in its real betting turnover figures. Overall, real betting turnover for the ARC over the last two years (2015-2016) declined by approximately 25 percent (see Figure 6).

Private betting shops out-earned the ARC when evaluated in both nominal and real terms. What is of interest is the fact that the revenue differential between these entities has reduced over the years. In 2001, this figure was an estimated TT$77 million in nominal terms and TT$199 million in real terms. In 2016, this differential fell to approximately TT$42 million (nominal) and TT$44 million (real). Additionally, the revenues for both trended downward over the past two years. The revenues for the ARC declined from TT$133 million in 2014 to TT$121 million in 2015 and TT$106 million in 2016. Meanwhile, private betting shops saw their collective earnings fall from TT$165 million in 2014 to TT$163 million in 2015 and TT$148 million in 2016 (see Figure 7). Despite the decline, revenues from private betting shops in 2016 still outclassed that of the ARC by an approximate TT$42 million. Thus, the ARC has fared poorly in its competition against its most direct rival. Unfortunately, this trend continues when the analysis is extended to a competitor that has a government-backed competitive advantage--the National Lotteries Control Board and its wide array of games.

As noted earlier, the horse racing industry was the franchise holder of the sweepstakes, the predecessor to the old National Lottery. However, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago intervened and the rest is now history. As previously stated by McCree (2009), the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) and its entire suite of gambling games have become a cash cow for the government. As seen in Table 6, the revenues for the NLCB from 1994 to 2005 averaged just over TT$800 million. Indeed, the NLCB had "bumper years" in 1995 and 2005, when total earnings crossed the TT$1 billion mark.

An examination of the Public Accounts during the 2010-2015 period further proves that the NLCB continues to be profitable for the government, despite some challenges. (33) Prior to 2015, the NLCB earned profits that surpassed expectations. In 2011, this figure was approximately TT$15 million higher than anticipated. However, in 2015, profits received from the NLCB totalled approximately TT$169 million, significantly less than what was anticipated (TT$265 million). Despite this dip in profitability in 2015, the NLCB's contribution to the Treasury averaged approximately TT$200 million within the 2010-2015 period (as seen in Figure 8). This aspect of the national gambling landscape continues to be a formidable competitor for the ARC as the allure of becoming an instant millionaire remains strong in T&T

Purse Structures

As seen in Figure 9, the trend in purse structures (i.e. the prize money paid to owners) is also disheartening. While the nominal gross purses increased over the 2001-2016 period, the real gross purses have not kept pace, as seen in Figure 9 below. Over the past five years, the inflation-adjusted numbers remained relatively unchanged, and the 2016 data show that the nominal and the adjusted gross purses have declined. The trend in the inflation gap suggests that the purchasing power of prize monies received by owners in 2016 was significantly reduced.

In one example, the nominal prize monies received in 2001 (TT$7.27 million) had the purchasing power that was equivalent to TT$18.79 million in 2016. In comparison, owners are now receiving prize monies of TT$16.92 million in 2016. Therefore, the owners' estimated purchasing power declined by approximately 10 percent since 2001, which reinforces the notion that current owners have less buying power today than in previous years.

In all fairness, a concerted effort was made to increase the prize money for owners, as evidenced by the upward trends displayed by the nominal average purse per race day and per race statistics (see Figures 10 and 11 below). These were shown to be increasing up until 2014, before there was a decline for the last two years. In 2016, the average race day purse offered by the ARC declined to approximately TT$403,000. This represented a drop of TT$61,000 or 13 percent from its 2015 level. Additionally, the average purse per race fell from TT$51,000 in 2015 to TT$47,000 in 2016. These negative trends do not portend good fortune for the industry, as it struggles with the need to balance its books while attempting to attract new investment. It also risks alienating current owners as it becomes more burdensome to maintain the upkeep of their horses.

Industry Personnel

The number of jockeys (34) and trainers operating in the local horse racing industry totalled 73 during 2017 -- 28 full-fledged jockeys, 14 apprentices and 31 trainers (see Appendix 1). These groupings are important to identify and enumerate as they represent the key personnel working within the industry. The trends in registrations by the TTRA are pointing downward, as illustrated in Figure 12. Registrations of owners, trainers, jockeys and grooms have either declined or stagnated.

The average number of owner registrations from 2001 to 2016 was approximately thirty-three, with a peak occurring in 2004 (59). However, the average over the last five years dropped to twenty; a decline of just under 40 percent. Clearly interest in owning racehorses has waned significantly (see Figure 12).


The evidence suggests that the T&T horse racing industry is in trouble. Breeding has fallen on hard times; its betting turnover and TTRA registrations have declined in recent years; and both were occurring before the country's recent recession.

The scope for future work involves further evaluation of the linkages created by the industry. Primary data collection on the income earned from workers can form the basis for estimating its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product. This data could then be used to evaluate its position within the national entertainment market segment. Essentially, this would show whether racing can compete with Movie Towne and Carnival fetes for the consumer's entertainment dollar.

The goal of this exercise would be the formulation of a data-driven strategic plan which would map the future development of the local horse racing industry. One of the main complaints that has been levelled against past governments and state enterprises is the lack of data-driven policy implementation. Unfortunately, past management committees have arguably been afflicted with the same malaise. The industry has failed to generate meaningful gains since centralisation in 1994. Policymakers must get buy-in from all relevant stakeholders for its strategic plan. This is vital for the survival of the industry.

The industry needs to attract new owners and former ones who have lost interest in recent years. It also suffers from reputation risk due to a negative industry outlook, a lack of clear direction, and delayed payments of purse monies. Declining purse monies are a deterrent in this regard. As such, the TTRC will need to increase its revenue streams to achieve this goal.

Firstly, a strong lobby should be made with the government to receive a more equitable share of proceeds received by the proposed Gaming Commission. (35) Based on a conversation between Joseph Hadeed and a few other racehorse owners, it was his belief that the proposed Gambling (Gaming and Betting) Control Act does little to alleviate the problems long plaguing the local horse racing industry. He argued for the mandatory computerisation of private betting shops, which may reduce leakages in tax collections. This requirement is not in the current iteration of the Bill. (36) While these are valid points, the industry lobby should also be negotiating with the government for a percentage of its funding from the proposed Gaming Commission. This could form a funding base for covering its stakes payments.

Secondly, the ARC must seek new sources of revenues or improve on existing ones. No longer can it seek to rely solely on the government for funding. Anew source of funding could be a private members' club (casino) that would allow the ARC to tap into monies generated from legal casino betting. Many racetracks in the US and Canada have followed this model, which has resulted in higher purse monies. This arguably would have positive knock-on effects regarding investment into the industry.

Another potential revenue source may be found via the evaluation of the Stronach Group model. Founded by Frank Stronach, it has become "one of the world's leading horse racetrack operators and suppliers of pari-mutuel wagering technology" (Stronach Group 2016). What should be of interest locally is how the entity transformed its racetrack properties into entertainment destinations, with Gulfstream Park in Florida a prime example of this process. The racetracks are now surrounded by casinos, restaurants and hotels that cater to a wider spectrum of consumers. The ARC could seek to develop its surrounding lands in such a manner. By appealing to a wider consumer base, it is hoped that future fans and owners alike may be attracted. Additionally, internet betting on local and simulcast races is long overdue. Barring any legal obstacles, this may be an initiative worth exploring.

Other ownership initiatives revolve around the rigorous enforcement of "fit and proper" criteria for industry personnel; the establishment of a racehorse insurance programme; as well as an ownership club such as the Churchill Downs Racing Club. The criteria would ensure that the industry does not suffer a negative taint from unscrupulous individuals.

Secondly, a significant barrier to racehorse ownership is the absence of an insurance programme that protects owners from loss due to catastrophic injury or illness. Ironically, there were insurance initiatives for owners during the 1980s, which were discontinued because of unscrupulous and corrupt practices. This is a case of "Peter paying for Paul, and Paul paying for all." Therefore, current owners have little recourse for recouping their investment when their charges are injured or become ill. The re-establishment of an insurance programme is a necessary step to attract new owners to the sport.

Thirdly, the creation of a racing club like the Churchill Downs Racing Club is an innovative project that can be undertaken. The author notes that there have been similar attempts in the past, such as the syndicates organised by Hugh Henderson. However, a more formalised approach to this concept is needed. The Churchill Downs Racing Club is described as "a low-cost, low-risk glimpse into the life of a thoroughbred owner". A fixed number of shares (200) are sold, (37) which then offers members various benefits, including a visit to the track in the early morning to watch your horse conduct training routines; a visit to the paddock enclosure just prior to the race; listening in as your trainer gives final instructions to the jockey; watching your horse as he competes; hopefully experiencing the thrill of visiting the Winners' Circle (The Churchill Downs Racing Club 2017).

The local breeding industry is also in need of assistance. A national stud and racing museum, in the medium to long term would advance the breeding industry. A number of stallions and broodmares could be purchased which would become the foundation stock for the farm. It is proposed that all the progeny be sold at the annual yearling sale to avoid claims of favouritism, and any unsold horses be offered to the racing club initiative. All proceeds would be used to fund future investments in breeding stock and R&D initiatives. The farm represents an excellent opportunity for partnership with the UWI, or the University of Trinidad and Tobago to do research in farm and pasture management, horsemanship practices and equine veterinary studies. The establishment of a racing museum on the same premises could also be a partner project with the universities, where they document the sport's contribution to the country. Hopefully, this would positively impact the local tourism industry.

Finally, the industry must take better care of its retired athletes--both human and equine. When the media publish accounts of old stalwarts dying in poverty or racehorses abandoned or left to starve, the industry suffers. It is time that stakeholders take better care of retired workers. If not already established, a pension plans should be established for grooms and jockeys. Additionally, stricter penalties (i.e. criminal liability) should be enforced when owners abandon their horses. A retirement foundation for retired racehorses, perhaps on the premises of the proposed national stud museum would show that the local industry does have a heart.


Auditor General of Trinidad and Tobago. 2010-2015. Treasury Statements on the Public Accounts of Trinidad and Tobago. Audit Reports, Port of Spain: The Auditor General of Trinidad and Tobago.

Baptiste, Andre. 2015. "The richness of racing this weekend." Trinidad Guardian. June 3.

Betting Levy Board of Trinidad and Tobago. 2013-2016. Audited Financial Statements of the Betting Levy Board of Trinidad and Tobago.

BloodHorse Staff. 2008. "Wild Again Euthanized at Age 28." BloodHorse Magazine. December 5. -at-age-28.

Churchill Downs Racing Club. 2017.

Cozier, John Derek, and Leonard Robertson. 1993. Memories of the Turf: The History of Horse Racing in Trinidad and Tobago. Port of Spain: Caribbean Information Systems and Services.

Deloitte and the British Horseracing Authority. 2013. Economic Impact of British Racing 2013. ImpactStudy2013.pdf.

Grinberg, Emanuella. 2015. Why American Pharoah's name is spelled wrong. June 8.

Hadeed, Joseph. 2007. Under the Fiddlewood Tree: Joe Hadeed-A Life in Racing. San Juan: Lexicon.

International Monetary Fund. 2016. World Economic Outlook Database (April 2016).

McCree, Roy. 2009. "Casino Gambling in Trinidad and Tobago: Contradictions and Challenges." Jamaica's Casino Initiative: The Policy Options, 73-84. Kingston: University of the West Indies.

Miller, Marlon. 2018. "Long-standing industry under pressure." Sunday Express, January 7, p.53.

Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2015. Horse racing. January 28. Accessed December 28, 2015.

International Federation of Horseracing Authorities. 2014. Annual Report.

Stronach Group. 2016. http://www.

Stud Farm Association of Trinidad and Tobago. 2015. Yearling Sales.

TIME Magazine. 1973. "The Wow Horse Races into History." TIME, June 11, p.105.

Tower, Whitney. 1973. "Triple Crown Criteria: Secretariat Has The Goods." Sports Illustrated, June 11, p. 36.

Trinidad Guardian. 2017. "Govt moving ahead with new gambling legislation." Trinidad Guardian, March 4.


Appendix 1. List of jockeys/apprentices and trainers in T&T as at April 8, 2017
Jockevs                          Trainers

 1. Nobel Abrego                  1. Lester Alexis
 2. Ronald Ali                    2. Rolf Bartolo
 3. Prayven Badree                3. Douglas Bennett
 4. Keishan Balgobin              4. Moses Boxie
 5. David Blackman                5. Michael Carew Jnr.
 6. Brian Boodramsingh            6. Harold Chadee
 7. Haniff Emamalie               7. Edmund De Freitas
 8. Nigel Flavenney               8. Fred De Freitas
 9. Wilmer Galviz                 9. Walter Debysingh
10. Antonio A. Giron             10. Rohit Dube
11. Daniel Gopie                 11. Harriram Gobin
12. Ryan Hasranah                12. Anthony Griffith
13. Patrick Husbands37           13. Stephen Jardim
14. Kennedy Jadoo                14. Shaffique Khan
15. Ricardo Tadoo                15. John Leotaud
16. Lome Keizer                  16. Vernon Lewis
17. Dillon Khelawan              17. Glenn Mendez
18. Kerron Khelawan              18. Derick Mosca
19. Jose G. Ledezma Alvador      19. Juan Mosca
20. Nela Mohammed                20. Anthony Nunes
21. Neptali Ortiz                21. Jake O'Brien
22. Nicholas Patrick             22. John O'Brien
23 Fazal Razack                  23. Bobby Persad
24. Sheldon Rodrigo              24. Jimmy Rampersad
25. Nairn Samaroo                25. Ramesh Ramroop
26. Yosenyer J. Serrano Camacho  26. Chester Roberts
27. Joshua Stephen               27. Richard Stephen
28. Ryan Thomas                  28.Jagdis Suratsingh
29. Apprentice Jockeys           29. Terrance Thomas
30. Kieron Almarales             30. George Villiers
31. Ridge Balgobin               31. lose William-Samaroo
32. Jovika Boodramsingh
33. David Butcher
34. Rico Dan Hernandez
35. Romario Hernandez
36. Steve Jadoo
37. Omar Mohammed
38. Andrew Poon
39. Kiran Razack
40. Joey Reyes
41. Darcelle Rodrigo
42. Learie C. Seecharan
43. Lenny A. Seecharan

(1) Charles II was referred to as "the father of the English turf."

(2) These included the reigns of Richard the Lion-Heart (1189-199), Henry VIII (16th century), James I, and Charles I (17th century).

(3) This policy sought to prevent "ringers" i.e. a superior horse entered fraudulently against inferior ones.

(4) The report noted that the fifty-three jurisdictions included thirteen countries that had their total betting turnovers divided into "Tote" and "the Bookmakers". Tote refers to all betting conducted at racecourses, while the Bookmakers refer to licensed betting shops. As a consequence, the report highlights betting turnovers for forty countries.

(5) The 2014 Annual Report of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities shows that only Slovakia had a total betting turnover of less than [euro]1 million-[euro]88,069 (Tote) and [euro]41,526 (Bookmakers).

(6) The Kentucky Derby is a race for three-year-olds that has been dubbed "the fastest two minutes in sports".

(7) The author notes that the spelling mistake is not a typo and that the spelling mistake is included in the registered name of the horse. For further details, see the following link:

(8) The Breeder's Cup Classic has been a fixture on the international racing calendar since 1984. Wild Again won the inaugural running of the classic (BloodHorse Staff 2008).

(9) For full disclosure, John Derek Cozier is the deceased father of the author. He was the Secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago Racing Authority and the Betting Levy Board of Trinidad and Tobago prior to his death in December 2001.

(10) It was noted that Tobago had a reputation at that time for breeding some of the best racehorses in the Caribbean.

(11) There is room for primary data collection as it pertains to gauging employment within the industry.


(13) This is also referred to as the sales topper.

(14) McCree outlines the revenue earned by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago from the NLCB over the period 1999 to 2005.

(15) The data can be collated and downloaded from the following link:

(16) For the uninitiated, broodmares are older female horses and form a crucial base for any breeding industry.

(17) I specifically identified this farm as it is representative of the country's ambivalence towards preserving historical landmarks. Rancho Caballero was one of the few farms from which a locally bred Triple Crown winner (Sky Rocket in 1986) hailed. It is this author's opinion that steps could have been taken to purchase this property to establish a national stud and racing museum. This represented a perfect opportunity for a public-private investment partnership model with possible tie-ins for academic research. The academic community (e.g. the University of the West Indies) could use the facility for the study of equine veterinary sciences, genetics, and the development of farm and pasture management techniques specifically tailored to the country's needs and resources.

(18) These are financial incentives that were provided to local breeders who sought to purchase breeding stock from other jurisdictions, such as the US.

(19) The amounts paid in 2016 (TT$2.09 million) represent a 74% increase from the amounts paid in 2012 (TT$1.20 million).

(20) The yearling sale has been held consistently on an annual basis since its inception.

(21) The author notes that this figure is inclusive of "buy-backs", i.e. purchases made by the owner(s) of the consigned lots.

(22) This represented a decrease of 77 (or 9.1%) over the 30 years.

(23) These are the Easter Guineas, the Midsummer Classic and the Trinidad Derby.

(24) Most recently, the dominance of Bigman In Town on the local racing circuit in 2014 and 2015 further reinforced this perception of superiority.

(25) This upward trend was most pronounced from 2000 to 2007 when total sales increased from TT$1.087 million in 2000 to its highest ever total of TT$3.685 million in 2007.

(26) Total sales declined from TT$3.685 million in 2007 to TT$1.848 million in 2010.

(27) Indeed, total sales in 2014 took a significant hit when it fell by approximately 40.8 percent from its 2013 sales total of TT$3.091 million.

(28) The sales topper's price in 2002 was TT$105,000.

(29) The real sales figure for 1990 represents the maximum within this variable's dataset.

(30) The real sales figure declined by 44.69 percent from TT$4.04 million in 2013 to TT$2.23 million in 2014. In 2015, this figure declined by 11.94 percent from TT2.23 million to TT$1.97 million in 2015.

(31) The decline was an estimated 26.03 percent.

(32) Currently, the Arima Race Club offers simulcast betting from a number of US-based tracks such as Aqueduct Park and Belmont Park in New York, Churchill Downs in Kentucky, Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans, Gulfstream Park in Florida and Santa Anita Park in California. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of the tracks offered for simulcast betting.

(33) These were sourced from the Auditor General's website:

(34) This figure includes both full-fledged and apprentice jockeys.

(35) See the Trinidad Guardian for a recent update on the progress of the Bill:

(36) This was from a conversation held between late March and early April 2017. The author wishes to acknowledge and thank Joseph Hadeed, Jeffery Francis, Anthony Munoz and Peter Acham.

(37) Author's note: the shares were sold out as at April 16, 2017.

Un Analisis Economico de la Industria de Carreras de Caballos en Trinidad y Tobago

John Gerard Cozier

El objetivo de este articulo es llevar a cabo un analisis economico de la industria de las carreras de caballos en Trinidad y Tobago vista la disminucion de su popularidad despues de los dias felices de las carreras en el Queen's Park Savannah. Se analizan las tendencias clave en la industria de la cria, incluida la venta anual de animales de un ano, un barometro critico para evaluar su estado de salud. Ademas, hay una comparacion entre los ingresos de apuestas del Arima Race Club y sus competidores directos, las tiendas de apuestas privadas. Se evaluan las estructuras monetarias y los registros del personal clave (es decir, propietarios, entrenadores y palafreneros) y se ofrecen recomendaciones para el futuro desarrollo del "deporte de los reyes" en Trinidad y Tobago.

Palabras clave: Analisis economico, juegos de azar, carreras de caballos, industria de la cria, Trinidad y Tobago

Une analyse Economique de l'lndustrie des Courses de Chevaux a Trinite-et-Tobago

L'objectif de cet article est de mener une analyse economique de l'industrie des courses de chevaux a Trinite-et-Tobago, car sa popularity a diminue depuis les beaux jours de course a la Queen's Park Savannah. Les principales tendances sont analysees dans l'industrie de l'elevage, y compris la vente annuelle de yearling, un indicateur critique pour evaluer sa sante. En outre, il existe une comparaison entre les revenus de paris de l'Arima Race Club et de ses concurrents directs, les magasins de paris prives. Les structures de bourse et les inscriptions du personnel cle (cest-a-dire les proprietaries, les entraineurs et les palefreniers) sont evaluees et des recommandations sont proposees pour le developpement futur du << sport des rois >> a Trinite-et-Tobago.

Mots-cles: Analyse economique, jeux d'argent, courses de chevaux, industrie de l'elevage,
Table 1: Summary of sales data (TT$) for the annual yearling sales

Market Indicators            Mean      Maximum      Minimum

Number of lots entered        100         141           70
Number of lots passed
through sale                   80          99           57
Number of lots sold            56          86           15
Total sales ($)         1,928,633.33    3,685,000  395,000
Average price ($)          24,190.69   57,526.32    19,990.74
Sales topper's
price ($)                 104,016.67  195,000       31,000

Market Indicators       Period totals

Number of lots entered       3,014
Number of lots passed
through sale                 2,406
Number of lots sold          1,667
Total sales ($)         57,859,000
Average price ($)           24,047.80
Sales topper's
price ($)                3,120,500

Source: Stud Farm Association of Trinidad and Tobago's website

Table 2: Summary of real sales data (TT$) for annual yearling sales

Market Indicators                 Mean        Maximum       Minimum

Total sales ($)           4,579,146.69  11,248,192.97  1,968,000.00
Average price ($)            56,609.66     122,262.97     27,495.50
Sales topper's price ($)    242,135.95     419,223.17     80,940.85

Market Indicators          Period Totals

Total sales ($)           137,374,400.71
Average price ($)              57,096.59
Sales topper's price ($)    7,264,078.45

Source: Author's calculations based on data from the websites of the
Stud Farm Association of Trinidad and Tobago and the International
Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook database.

Table 3: Trends in the number of lots catalogued and passed through
(period comparisons)

           No. of lots in catalogue  No. of lots passed through
Period                               the sales ring
           Total  Average            Total  Average

1987-1996    993   99                 848   85
1997-2006    919   92                 787   79
2007-2016  1,102  110                 771   77

Source: Stud Farm Association of Trinidad and & Tobago's website
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Author:Cozier, John Gerard
Publication:Social and Economic Studies
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:5TRIN
Date:Jun 1, 2018
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