HANDICAPPERS IN A RACE OF THEIR OWN
AS HASTINGS SEASON WINDS DOWN
$75,000 Stake Races Sunday & Monday
Vancouver, B.C. (Oct. 11/19) – With just six racing days remaining on the 2019 thoroughbred calendar, the traditional trash-talking among three key handicappers at Hastings Racecourse gets more heated than ever.
In alphabetical order because of ego issues, the trio consists of Drew Forster, Randy Goulding and Mike Heads. Forster and Heads pen their pre-race predictions for The Derby Bar and Grill; Goulding for the Daily Racing Form.
They compete annually for the Railbird Plaque that goes to the handicapper who selects in print the most first-place winning horses over the course of the racing season.
Heading into this Sunday-Monday Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Ralph (Railbird) Bower – creator of the Handicappers Press Box Challenge – has Goulding leading with 122 wins, Forster with 114 and Heads trailing at 101.
“I’m home and cooled out,” Goulding says without a trace of humility. “I’ve been beating these guys into the ground for so many years it’s become old hat.”
He chooses to ignore that Forster is the reigning champion. “The trophy sits on my bedside table,” Drew says. “Winning does not mean everything to me … but beating Goulding does. I have no intention of giving the trophy up.”
Forster captured the 2018 title on the final day of racing last year in rather dramatic fashion. Drew’s father Dave, the legendary Hall of Fame trainer, won the 8th race on the October 14 card with Santa Fe Trail and Drew’s mom Terri watching from the Sky Box while celebrating her 70th birthday with family and friends. Drew naturally picked Santa Fe Trail to win and beat Goulding by a single selection in the overall, year-ending handicapping standings.
Heads, winner of the competition in 2016, doesn’t mind being considered the longshot over these final six race days.
“Longshot is my middle name,” he says. “And make note, I picked Rob and Vicky Gilker’s Rak City to win on September 22 and it paid $34.90. The other two guys are forever picking favourites.”
The 2019 nominated stakes schedule winds down with two $75,000 features: the Fantasy for two-year-old fillies on Sunday and the Ascot for two-year-old colts and geldings on Monday.
Kay Cooper, daughter of the late Washington State Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jim Penney, has three entries in the 59th running of the Ascot as the Emerald Downs ‘Royal Family of Racing’ carries on its tradition.
Kay and husband Bryson are no strangers to the Vancouver scene. Bryson’s jockey career from 1970 thru 2005 included several memorable riding assignments at Hastings, including finishing second by a neck to BC Derby winner Decidedly D ridden by Alan Cuthbertson in 1972. Kay and Bryson’s son Geoffery was a successful jockey at Emerald Downs in the 1990’s and he, too, made several riding appearances at Hastings.
The Penney family legacy in Washington racing goes back four generations to when A.E. Penney was one of the original founders of the Washington Horse Breeders Association in 1901.
Kay and Bryson will be saddling Lolo Paniolo, Turntheclocktozero and Forty Smooches for Monday’s 12-horse Ascot field.
Start times for the Sunday and Monday eight-race cards: 1:50 p.m.