Do You Know The History Of Horse Racing In The Caribbean?


St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tribune, NEW YORK, NY: Many people are surprised to discover that the Caribbean has a long and rich history of horse racing.
Racetracks on a number of the region’s islands regularly attract large crowds of spectators to exciting races. For those who enjoy this sport and the atmosphere it brings, the Caribbean islands offer many exciting events.
Horse Racing in Puerto Rico
This is arguably the Caribbean’s main horse racing location. The locals have enjoyed the sport since the Spanish first brought horses here in the colonial period. In the early 20th century, the first thoroughbreds arrived to Puerto Rico, adding extra appeal and leading to a surge in betting.
El Comandante racetrack was the most famous venue, dating back to the 1950s. It was replaced in the 1970s by the El Nuevo Comandante, which is now called Hipódromo Camarero. Races are held here on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturday, and Sundays.
Among the best-known horses to run here are Bold Forbes, who won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes in the US, and Mister Frisky of Santa Anita Derby glory. Puerto Rico is also highly regarded for the number of top jockeys coming from here.
For instance, John Velázquez, became the first jockey to reach $300 million in prize money in 2014. He is fondly remembered for winning the 2017 Kentucky Derby on Always Dreaming. Other hugely successful riders from here include Irad Ortiz Jr., Eddie Belmonte, and José C. Ferrer, who was the first jockey to win five races on a single card at the Meadowlands.
The Biggest Caribbean Race
The most famous race in the region is the Clasico del Caribe. Horses and jockeys come from all over the region to compete in this glamorous event. It has traditionally been hosted by between places like Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago, although in recent years it has been moved to Gulfstream Park in Florida.
The 2019 event was won by 45-1 longshot The Brother Slew, ridden by Paco Lopez and owned by Paul Valery. The weekend of the Clasico del Caribe also sees other major races such as the Caribbean Sprint Cup and Caribbean Ladies’ Classic take place. They are popular viewing throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Best Horse Ever Seen in the Caribbean
There is some debate over which horse is the finest ever seen in this part of the world. Among the main contenders is the legendary Mentone. In fact, he was named as Horse of the Century by the Trinidad & Tobago Racing Authority.
Mentone was bred in the UK in the 1950s and came to the Caribbean at the end of that decade. His first race here was in the 1959 Christmas Meeting in Trinidad, where Mentone won the Governor’s Cup by an impressive distance and set a new track record at the same time.
This horse’s incredible record in the Caribbean was 7 wins out of 12 in Trinidad and 6 out of 6 in Barbados, often while carrying a large amount of weight in an attempt to even things up.
Another interesting example of horses arriving in Puerto Rico and going on to have large amounts of success is the previously mentioned Bold Forbes.
Known as the Puerto Rican Rolls Royce, this fabulous competitor was born in the US but moved to Puerto Rico where he won 7 out of 8 races as a 2-year old. He went back to the US and placed his name in the list of Kentucky Derby Winners (you can see the full list here:
He also won the Belmont Stakes in 1976, while he came close to winning the Preakness Stakes that year too.
A Look to the Future
It looks likely that horse racing will continue to be extremely popular in parts of the Caribbean. With such a long history filled with so many interesting characters, it is clear that horse racing has a special place in many people’s hearts here.

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