Inside the Unlikely Horse Racing World of St. Croix

Deep in the lush greenery of St. Croix, a nation of roughly 50,000 people in the U.S. Virgin Islands, lies a robust sporting culture. But unlike some of their neighbors in the baseball and soccer-obsessed Caribbean, the people of St. Croix have found immense pleasure, comfort, and purpose in horse racing. Cruzan Cowboys, a new GQ Sports documentary, shines a light on this bustling subculture.

In the film, we meet 15-year-old Tito, among other equine enthusiasts who started racing horses at a very young age. This is not exactly the Kentucky Derby, though: an ocean away from Churchill Downs, Tito and his peers race their horses in the country’s sprawling, verdant bushland. The set up looks almost like a drag race—or even a foot race you might see at any local playground. It’s just two horses, each bearing a rider, sprinting side-by-side through the grass. Some days they’ll race for a bag of feed to keep the horses nourished, others simply for bragging rights. This activity, Tito explains, also helps keep the country’s youth out of trouble.

Directed by Doug Segars, Cruzan Cowboys is an illuminating depiction of life in St. Croix for kids like Tito, who dream of making it out and one day becoming a professional jockey in the United States.

Originally Appeared on GQ