‘Bring back horse racing’


Tribune Staff Reporter


A FORMER Bahamian hotel executive has called for the government to consider the restoration of horse racing in the country.

Ivan James, former Apex hotelier and casino executive, said the government should look at reviving horse racing “very carefully because there’s no entertainment for the tourists”.

He made his statements three days before the 57th anniversary of the destruction of Hobby Horse Hall Race Track, which was burned to the ground on February 15, 1958.

A story headlined “Fire Flattens Track” was published in The Nassau Daily Tribune on Monday, February 17, 1958. According to Mr James, the track was rebuilt and restarted operations in 1960, and continued operating until its closure in 1977, which he said was due to “bureaucracy.”

Mr James told The Tribune last week that he has written a book and produced a documentary on the subject titled “The Life and Death of Hobby Horse Hall Race Track, Lost Rich Bahamian History,” which covers the “rich history” behind horse racing in The Bahamas.

“The current government has to take consideration of the restoration of horse racing, because it was noticed to be one of the major tourist attractions that The Bahamas ever had,” Mr James said. “During that era, you had Paradise Island beach, the Water Tower, Sea Gardens, and Fort Charlotte.

“Hobby Horse Hall Race Track was the other major tourist attraction. Today we don’t have any entertainment for the adult resorts like Baha Mar and Albany. So the government should take a look at it very carefully because there’s no entertainment for the tourists.”

According to Mr James, horse racing in The Bahamas dates back 200 years, starting in 1782 and ending in 1977.

Hobby Horse Hall Race Track, he said, was built in 1792, 81 years after Queen Anne of Great Britain built the Ascot Racecourse in England in 1711.

The track was located where mega-resort Baha Mar is located today.

Mr James said he was inspired to explore the subject to enlighten another generation about the history of horseracing in this country.

“The inspiration is awareness to the future generations and the current generation,” he said. “Because the racetrack closed in 1977, those who are around 37 to 38 years old don’t have the slightest idea of what happened in the last 38 years.

“It’s so much rich history. The book also represents an understanding for the revival of horse racing.”

According to Mr James, the book will soon be available for “global publication” in paperback and hardback format as well as on CD.

He said he finished writing the book in 2000.

Mr James also said former Governor General Sir Orville Turnquest had, while in office, endorsed the documentary.


B_I_D___ 8 years, 7 months ago

They've legalized the numbers houses, may as well get back into horse racing!!


jackbnimble 8 years, 7 months ago

I was about the put the exact comment. Nuff said!


duppyVAT 8 years, 7 months ago

Tal ur good!!!!!!!!! But there is a need for serious revival of onshore activities for tourists in Nassau ................... the Fish Fry/Clifford Park/Ft. Charlotte/Botanical Gardens/Ardastra Gardens complex is sitting there for almost the whole year without major activity ....... thats why we dont need a Carnival................ use what we have


TalRussell 8 years, 7 months ago

Comrade haven't you heard, the Fish Fry is now renamed as the 6 million dollars "nobody can find anywhere in all Nassau Town"" Carnival 2015 Village? I swear not making this up.


Girly 8 years, 7 months ago

If you think the topic of immigration caused a riot judge going back to horse racing. Here would come the topic of humane verses inhumane treatment of animals. GET READY........WAIT FOR IT.........WAIT FOR IT............


TalRussell 8 years, 7 months ago

Comrade it just might come back, so done been on phone to "KC" Freddy da lawyer, instructing him legal-up my old race horses, with they immigration papers. Love them too much see them sent detention center. Cuz, if any lawyer can "regularize" horse papers, it tis da KC.


pablojay 8 years, 7 months ago

This is a subject that i had intended to address myself. When the Hobby Horse Hall Race Track closed in 1977, i was the youngest horse owner at the track,just having bought a thoroughbred race horse, the same breed that sells at auctions nowadays,that with top blood lines and conformation going for more than $1 million.The horse that i bought in 1976 cost $1100,but was worth much more ,because my young Bahamian trainer used to work on a horse farm owned by the O'Farrell family, the most prominent name in Ocala, the capital of horse farms in Florida. My trainer told Mr. O'Farrell that he wanted some good horses to upgrade the breed in Nassau and with his influence at the Ocala auction,he had the hammer stopped on three horses that my trainer bought for myself and two others, allowing us to by horses that we could not normally afford. Our horses did well and we were looking at a bright future in horse racing, when the late PLP demigod announced that the race track was going to close because he needed the property to build a convention centre and 1977 being an election year, a tract of land was cleared down for the new race track on Gladstone Road , but in typical PLP fashion , after they were reelected ,the trees grew back and the convention centre was never built . Incidentally,i was able to show my children the grandstand where horse racing fans used to sit in 1977,almost thirty years later, which was was not broken down until BahMar developed the property , which now shows the beautiful lake with the boardwalk.


Greentea 8 years, 7 months ago

I enjoyed going to watch the horses run as a very young child. families would sit under the pine trees on what I think would be the east side of the tracks and I would run to the rails to see them warm up, walk and race. loved it! sorry it's no longer around. keep on keeping on James. maybe someday, someone will listen.


LydiaBE1 5 years ago

I agree with Mr Ivan James, after being apart of the tourism industry for the last 12 years, guest tend to say that our activities on the island tend to be very limited. Also that most of the activities offered are cliché.


Sign in to comment