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  • Heidi Smith

Officials break ground on new, improved Phipps Race Track

ST. THOMAS — Construction on the island’s new and improved horse racing track is off to the races.

On Tuesday afternoon, officials broke ground on the Clinton E. Phipps Race Track in Estate Bovoni during a ceremony attended by Gov. Albert Bryan Jr., Lt. Gov. Tregenza Roach and V.I. Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett, as well as leaders from Southland Gaming of the Virgin Islands and enough members of the 35th Legislature for Sen. Marvin Blyden to joke that they had a quorum.

Southland Gaming’s director of public relations Jason Charles emceed the event and opened with an account of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ storied history with the “Sport of Kings.”

“This is also an outlet for our young people,” she said. “I’ve worked in stables and I know it’s really a constructive outlet for them — especially our young men. Many of them really need this. They need that connection to, and the responsibility they have, from horse racing.”

Plaskett said that beyond the economic opportunities, the return of horse racing signifies a continuation of culture, history and the possibility for young Virgin Islanders to go on to become some of the greatest jockeys in the world.

“The track that’s going to be built here over the next year and half, two years, is going to be spectacular,” Bryan said. “A ‘Class A’ event not only for the people that come here, but for the horses, the jockeys, for the owners that come here and really have a great event.”

Bryan said that “by hook or by crook,” the same revitalization will come to St. Croix. Several speakers personally thanked Sen. Javan James, the only St. Croix member of the Legislature who voted in favor of allocating funds toward rebuilding and repairing the track.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t say to the Senate, see what happened when we work together? Give me my money,” Bryan joked, referencing his request that the Legislature authorize a $150 million line of credit to jump start other recovery projects and pay off debts incurred by the Water and Power Authority.

No firm date was announced for the project’s completion, but Bryan was confident about one thing.

“The Governor’s Cup will be delivered next year,” he declared.


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