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Hastings 2015 racing season has horsemen fired up, ready to go

April 24, 2015     E-mail this page to a friend!

The first Thoroughbred race staged in Vancouver was in 1889 down the middle of what was to become Howe Street. A horse named Mayflower won the $250 purse as winner of the Vancouver City Stakes.

When the 2015 racing season launches on Saturday with a seven-race card at Hastings Racecourse, it will mark the beginning of a 54-day race meet that offers $7.8 million in total purse money with more than $3 million dedicated to some of the richest stakes races in Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest.

The stakes schedule kicks off on Sunday with the $50,000 George Royal and $50,000 Brighouse Belles part of an eight-race card. Start times both Saturday and Sunday is 1:50 p.m.

When Hastings Racecourse had its operating agreement with the City of Vancouver extended last November through 2016, it created renewed optimism among the racing industry in British Columbia.

“I can’t remember seeing people this positive on the backstretch,” said Darren MacDonald, general manager at Hastings and recently appointed Director, BC Racing. “Everyone is dedicated to making the coming season one of the best in recent years. You can feel it in the air.”

MacDonald notes that two new stakes have been added to this year’s calendar: the $100,000 Redekop Classic for B.C.-bred or owned 3-year-olds and older; and the $100,000 Pegasus Distaff for B.C.-bred or owned 3-year-olds and older fillies and mares. They will be added to the holiday Monday card on August 3.

The 70th running of the BC Derby on September 13 remains the richest race of the season with its purse having been bumped from $150,000 to $250,000.

Four-time Hastings leading jockey Pedro Alvarado has created added excitement among racing fans with his decision to return to the riding ranks after trying his hand at training two years ago. Alvarado, 49, was the leading jockey at Hastings for three consecutive years (2002, 2003, 2004) and won the title again in 2006. His comeback in the saddle becomes official in Saturday’s second race aboard Mr. Cactus. Popular Santa Anita based jockey Aaron Gryder will be at Hastings during opening weekend while another veteran from the California circuit—David Lopez—will be riding throughout the season for locally owned North America Thoroughbred Horse Company under legendary trainer Troy Taylor.

A new feature at Hastings this season is the Sea to Sky Pick 6 with a twenty-cent minimum wager, the first of its kind at a Canadian Thoroughbred track. A version of Gulfstream Parks successful Rainbow Six, it begins Saturday with an opening day seeded pool of $5,000.