December 16, 2009

A Call for Help

Belize is a small country located on the Caribbean coast in northern Central America.  It is the only nation in Central America where English is the official language.  Because of its location and natural beauty, Belize is known as a tourist attraction.  The sport of horse racing is alive in Belize, but it is on life support.

I see the future of horse racing as very much a global sport.  To that end, it benefits us all, for horse racing in Belize to remain, and improve, and to grow.  A champion for that goal is a Belize native named Roger Marston.  The following is a letter I recieved from Mr. Marston:

My name is Roger Marston of Belize City, Belize Central America. I am 27 years old and have loved horses and horse racing for my entire life. I have been around horses since I was a child here in Belize. I have been actively involved in the sport of racing for about 5 years as an exercise rider, trainer, and owner. It has always been my dream to have become a jockey. I was even accepted at the Frank Garza jockey school however that dream was short lived due to the lack of finances.

Horse racing here in Belize has not made any steps forward since I was a child. Instead it has just been falling and falling and I feel that it is at its point of exhaustion. In the early 80’s the Queen of England had donated a race track, named The Belize National Stadium, to the Horse Owners of Belize to hold their race meets. There they held a lot of great races and at that time we had horses and horsemen alike coming all the way from Jamaica to participate in the local races, but that was short lived. In 1994 that land was taken away from the Horse Owners, by the then Government of Belize, and was relocated to its present location. After the track was relocated it had also changed its name to Burrel Boom Race Track and now to present day Castleton Race Track.

Currently we have about 50-60 active racing horses with about 15-20 being imported thoroughbreds. We have races once a month with our biggest days being January 1st, March 9th, April 13th, May 1st and 24th, Sept. 18th, Oct 12th, Dec 26th. Our track is small and has tight turns, it can almost be classified as “bull pen” or a “bull ring” track. It has deep beach sand which is great and tender on the horses hooves, however it has wooden rails. I must say that so far we have not had any mishaps but would love to prevent that from ever happening.

I feel that the reason the sport is dying is the fact that the local Government or the City Council does not support horse racing. We also do not have any pari-mutual betting here. If the racing fans or tourist attend a race meet they either have to bet amongst themselves, or do it with the horse owners or trainers. If we can get pari-mutual betting here it would be an asset for the Country as well as for the race track as money will be generated.

We have a grandstand at the track that hold about 75-100 people. The judges and announcer must share that little space along with the spectators, owners, trainers, etc.. There is no camera or video system in place to capture the finishes or to review the races so if there is any disqualification or interference it cannot be reviewed nor the necessary placing of position be made. There is no winners circle where the winners are awarded. There is also no jockey room . The jockeys roam and intermingle with race fans, owners, trainers and even doing betting. In the barn area, the race fans can get up close and personal with the horses, which I feel is very unsafe as there are times when horses tend to act up and people have to be scrambling for safety.

I feel that if the race program is more structured like that of the USA the fans will understand more what is going on with specifics horse identification, as well as rules, regulations and protocol. Here the program is not fully detailed so most of the fans are always asking “which horse is that?” and “who is riding?” or “who is the owner?” Even the announcer, steward and judges can become confused.
With a stallion registry in place we could keep track of horses as they are bred, and so forth. I would love to make the connection that some day we can have international racing, as well as simlucasting being done of our horse racing meets. I would love to have more horses into the country and even have a breeding farm in place so that we can produce our own horses and at some point be able to take them back to the USA and participate in races as well.

I have written all of this above in order to enlist the support of the racing industry within the USA. We are looking for assistance with the following:

• Renovate the local race track to make it a bit more safer for horses and riders.
• If possible to get a new race track bigger and better like that of the USA

• Have a stallion registry
• Have all racing horses in Belize registered
• Racing Board & Commission
• Starting Gate
• Breeding Farm• pari-mutual Betting
• Simulcasting
• Better Race Program
• Jockey School• Farrier ,Trainers, Jockey, Steward, Judge, Emergency and horse care education courses
• Licensing
• Racing Rules & Regulations  

For more information or to offer assistance, here is Mr. Marston's Contact Information:

Roger Marston
23 Barracat Street
Belize City, Belize
Central America
tel: (001) 501-623-7833

I know that many of you will feel for the plight of racing in Belize and would like to help, (and if you can help directly that would be wonderful) but are not sure what to do.  Today I ask all of my readers to use the comment page and 'sign in' as a show of support for Roger Marston's cause and for the improvement of horse racing in Belize.  This small act could lead to greater recognition, and in the end, lead to something much bigger.  Thank you.


Brian Zipse said...

I support horse racing in Belize.

Billy Huntington said...

I also support horse racing in Belize.

Michael said...

I support racing everywhere, including Belize.

Unknown said...

Thanks guys we would greatly appreciate all the help here to make the sport much better, and bigger

Unknown said...

Anything and every support would be greatly appreciated and accepted, all the advices and guidance to go about in bettering the sport would be accepted. Like we always say here in Belize "one, one full basket"

Roger Marston :-)

NetworkEmpowerment said...

How could I not support such a thing! Everyone should get to experience racing at it's best, including Belize. I support racing in Belize.

Jennifer Cook said...

I support horse racing in Belize. It's probably the only way I will ever get my husband to go there.

Unknown said...

I support horse racing in Belize. It would be a win-win situation for all horse racing fans.

Silent Sunday said...

That's inspiring what Roger has committed to further the racing industry in belize. I support horse racing in Belize.

Anonymous said...

Interesting pictures of the track. Is that a new turf-sand blend? lol

Unknown said...

no that's the actual sand your seeing there is pine ridge/beach sand (sea sand)

Mike M said...

I sure wish I could do more to help. But, I do support horse racing in Belize.

Best of luck!

Sarah Grice said...

I also support horse racing in Belize!

Anonymous said...

Hey Zipse, the article was partially cut off for me, but I support horse racing being protected in small countries from the animal rights groups moving in and taking advantage of small operations by stopping them from ever getting off of the ground. Like they are doing in Israel. I'll send them some information about how to exclude and not ever try to placate the animal liberation police. Horse racing in Belize should proceed the right way, not with a thorn in it's side from the start. The more racing we have internationally, the more coalitions we have to back up our right to use our livestock in competition and sport without restrictions and laws from those subtley inching us towards reduced or no animal use.

By the way, does anyone else have trouble seeing the International Racing blog that shows up from time to time? I click on it and keep getting nothing.

Horse Racing Freedom For All. Belize and the United States. Protected From Social Activism Changing The Reality Of Livestock Use, Especially In Countries Without A United States Constitution To Protect Their Rights To Use And Manage Their Own Property. Livestock Being The Most Basic Property Of The Common Man The World Over. I LOVE AND SUPPORT HORSE RACING IN BELIZE AND THE WORLD.

What good, underappreciated stallion should we send them? Let's put the American flag in the soon to be Belize Thoroughbred breeding industry.

Emily Plant said...

I support horse racing in Belize!

Jeanetta said...

I support racing in Belize! I hope it works out for you!!

Ciarán said...

I support Horse racing in Belize. This needs an effort from the Belize government, they need to understand that a well run horse racing industry is an asset to any economy and well bred horses would give them a really great product to export and a fully equipped racecourse would provide them with a great tourist attraction to sell.

EricKalet said...

I support horse racing all over the world and would love to see it become successful in Belize

personalensign79 said...

I support horse racing in Belize!!!

Anonymous said...

good people....this was originally BRITISH HONDURAS a queen's colony pre independence...very close ties to the english speaking carribbean namely jamaica...i can understand the existence and passion for horseracing a direct leftover from more prosperous colonial is racing irrespective of geographical location...contribution in ... See Morewhatever shape or form is a feather in the cap of t-bred racing internationally and from what i see it would not take a hell of alot to make a huge difference so i say lend a helping hand....brian, thanks for this article as without it i would not be aware of this....and to the world of t-bred racing in general do what you can to help the next great apprentice or even horse could be waiting and needing our help and help BELIZE get the show on the!!!!


Celeste said...

Very interesting article, Brian. I had absolutely no idea there even was horseracing in Belize. Because I love the horses and love the sport, I would encourage them to continue pursuing ways to promote and improve their track, their horses, etc. I'm not a world traveler, but I've seen ads for Belize as a beautiful stop on the cruise lines, so if you could spend a day at the races while you were cruising at sea - how great would that be?

Brian Zipse said...

Well said Keith! Thank you.

A wonderful idea Celeste, utilizing horse racing in Belize as a part of their tourism package may be an attractive point in getting more support from their government.