Thoroughbred Horse Racing in Barbados
Barbados is home to one of the oldest race tracks in the Americas – The Garrison Savannah.
Horse racing in Barbados dates back to 1845 when Barbados was part of the British empire.
The Barbados Turf Club organizes horse races today, and many races take place throughout the year so that race enthusiasts can witness horses at their best and history in the making.
If you don’t know much about horses, you will be treated to an electric atmosphere, good food, and a flutter if you wish to indulge.
The most important races on the Barbados racing calendar are:
The Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup
The Barbados Gold Cup is a thoroughbred horse race run annually on the first Saturday in March since 1982. The Gold Cup is the most famous horse race in the Southern Caribbean, with spectators viewing worldwide. Contested over a turf course at a distance of 1,800 meters (9 furlongs), this race is open to horses three or older.
The large crowd is treated to top-quality races – from horses owned by the world’s leading investors in thoroughbred racing. There is delectable food to be tasted, live music to be heard, and a Gold Cup Parade to be witnessed. This is a great day out for all – there is something there for all the family.
The Barbados Triple Crown
- The Banks Barbados Guineas is the 1st leg of the local Triple Crown and occurs in April.
- The Pinnacle Feeds Midsummer Creole Classic (GR.1R-BAR.) is the 2nd leg of the regional Triple Crown in July, and
- The United Insurance Barbados Derby (GR.1R-BAR) is the 3rd leg of the regional Triple Crown in August.
Other major races on the calendar are:
- The Coolmore “Home Of Champions” Trophy (GR.1-BAR), in January
- The Victor Chandler Trophy (GR.1-BAR), formerly the Sunset Reef Trophy in December, is all for the best horses in the country.
The Barbados Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association sponsors a series of 5 races for Barbadian-bred horses each year. At the same time, the island’s leading jewelry establishment, Diamonds International, has since 2000 teamed up with the Club to promote a series of 5 races for West Indian-bred 2-year-olds which are the most lucrative and esteemed program of races for 2-year-old horses in the English speaking Caribbean.
But racing at the Garrison is not only for the race fan, it can be a day of family entertainment. Those who want to enjoy the spectacle from the stands can do so, while those who prefer an informal picnic atmosphere can lounge in the shade of the tall trees surrounding the track.
Families can enjoy Barbadian dishes like pudding and souse, rice and stew, fried fish, and cakes. Quenching the thirst is not a problem with drinks ranging from refreshing coconut water to the finest Barbadian rum.
The serious punter has several options for watching the races. They can enjoy the view from the Grandstand, Field Stand, Sir John Chandler Stand, or if they are lucky enough to get an invitation, to the luxurious Corporate Boxes overlooking the famous paddock bend.
Horse racing location: Garrison Savannah
Thoroughbred Horse Racing in Barbados at the historic Garrison Savannah, less than 2 miles outside the capital, Bridgetown.
It has been the home of horse racing since the colonial days of 1845. The British Regiment officers stationed in Barbados used what was then the parade ground to match their horses in races, and the wealthy merchants and planters later joined them.
The track is a 6 furlongs oval grass strip. Races are run at distances of 5 furlongs (1000 meters), 5½ furlongs (1100 meters), 7.8 furlongs (1570 meters), 9 furlongs (1800 meters), 10 furlongs (2000 meters), and 11 Furlongs (2200 meters), with the horses running in a clockwise (right-handed) direction.
Barbados Turf Club
The Barbados Turf Club has regulated and promoted horse racing in Barbados since 1905. The club organizes three racing seasons annually from January to April, May to August, and October to December.
Horses are handicapped according to talent. The system of handicapping classifies horses from ‘A1’ to ‘G2’ class, with ‘A1’ being the highest.