Sports

The Diamond Mile needs the best 16 horses – Philip Feanny

…former champion trainer shares his views on some of the conditions of the ultra-rich event

BY RUDDY ALLEN
Observer staff reporter

Friday, February 22, 2019

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With new conditions released to the public for the fifth staging of the Diamond Mile on Tuesday of this week, former champion trainer Philip Feanny is giving mixed views of the changes while insisting that there is more tweaking to be done.

Feanny indicated that he agreed with the change of date of the Diamond Mile. The first four Diamond Mile races were staged in December, however, the new date for this year's running is November 9. This change is being done in an attempt to facilitate runners more time for possible participation in the Caribbean Classic to run in December at Gulfstream Park in Florida, as well as the four other specially designated races for regional horses.

“I agree with the change for the timing of the race. To place the Diamond Mile in November means that the Trinidadians, who will be here for the Yearling Sale, can now be easily incorporated into a special weekend of racing which was what the Superstakes was meant to be when the Superstakes was the Superstakes.

“Now without the Superstakes, the Diamond Mile has taken precedence as the major race on the calendar excepting for the Jamaica Derby.

“So, to place it November and giving us a chance to race in December at Gulfstream Park, which is if we have a horse good enough, is a good idea,” Feanny firmly stated.

While Feanny agreed with that change, the “Maestro” as he is popularly called, was in total disagreement with the change in eligibility of horses to be selected to compete in the race.

That change states: Horses will be selected based on their year-to-date earnings at designated racing levels or classes (Graded Stakes, Open Allowance and Overnight Allowance) at specific journeys for the class.

Earnings for Grade One/Graded Stakes horses will be accumulated at distances of 6 furlongs (1,200m) and over; Open Allowance races will be done at 7 furlongs (1,400m) and over and the same for the Overnight Allowance races.

Three-year-old Graded Stakes races remain the same over various distances. All other earnings will not be considered including stakes earned in claiming races.

“I still fundamentally disagree with the conditions for eligibility. I think it should be just like the Superstakes and the Sprint Championship, where the 16 best horses in the island are invited to the race by the racing department. I don't think entry into the Diamond Mile should have nothing to do with which horse won a Grade One, Grade Two or Grade Three race over whatever distance.

“I don't agree with those conditions. It should be the 16 best horses in the country invited by the racing department,” the “Maestro” told the Supreme Racing Guide.

Feanny also said that while the Diamond Mile itself is a good thing for the racing industry, the race should have replaced the long-standing Gold Cup in order to get more out of the event.

“The Diamond Mile is a good idea. It is a very good idea but I think it has missed how good it could have been. One of those being the eligibility for horses running in the race; two, the distance of the race, it should have been seven furlongs and the third reason being that it should have replaced the Gold Cup.

“And as you know and everybody in Jamaica knows the Gold Cup and its importance to the racing industry on the calendar. People talk about past Gold Cup races like they were run today, they are talked about for years. It is one of those races you talk about forever because it attracts the best horses, going sprint, middle distances and going long and because seven furlongs meant everybody has a chance. Now going a mile, you are eliminating your sprinters,” Feanny argued.

Another major change to the conditions of the Diamond Mile is that the winner of the Gold Cup will now get an automatic entry to the race.

Automatic first preference entry for the winner of the previous Diamond Mile remains the same, providing that this horse races in a minimum of two Grade One races and finishes from first to third in at least one of these races.

The win and you are in condition remains the same also, for the winners of the Jamaica Derby, the Superstakes, the Caribbean Sprint Championship and the Invitational Mile in the same year of the Diamond Mile getting automatic first preference entries into the Diamond Mile.

The 2018 Diamond Mile was won by the Robert Pearson-trained, Robert Halledeen ridden and Wilbert Bagwandeen owned Will In Charge.


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