While there are still two more race days left, each with nine races scheduled for the weekend, one would have to admit, whether you’re a regular horse racing fan or novice, this was one great year to have visited Hastings Racecourse.

It was a season that began when Tim Banker’s grey gelding Blue Law, trained by Cindy Krasner and ridden by Amadeo Perez, won the featured $50,000 Swift Thoroughbreds Inaugural Stakes and paid $37.70. And if there was not enough to excite fans during this season, one only need look back at the race card run Monday. On Thanksgiving afternoon, Hastings hosted two major stakes races, the $100,000 Ballerina and $100,000 BC Premier’s. The duo of Grade 3 fixtures produced two of the most exciting finishes witnessed all season.

. Rob & Victoria Gilker’s outstanding mare Victress caught Foundation Stable’s 40-1 longshot Sailingforthesun in the final stride. Photo – Four Footed Foto

In the $100,000 Ballerina Stakes for older fillies and mares, it was Rob and Victoria Gilker’s outstanding mare Victress coming from last to catch Foundation Stable’s 40-1 longshot Sailingforthesun in the shadow of the wire. Trained by co-owner Rob Gilker. Victress was one of several Cinderella stories this year that helped make horse racing a sport where everyone has a chance at owning the ‘Big Horse’.

Victress was originally purchased from the 2014 Keeneland Yearling Sale for $47,000. In the spring of 2016, while they were training their small stable at Santa Anita, Gilker was looking through a sales catalogue for that year’s Hastings Paddock Sale.

“I noticed her name,” said Gilker, “and was quite familiar with her breeding. And while Vicky stayed in California, I flew home to Hastings to take a closer look at her, noticed a few scratches but nothing serious. And when the bid came to $3500, we bought her.” For her victory Victress collected $55,000 of the $100,000 Ballerina purse, making her one of the best bargain purchases in local history.

. Kim Peacock, Lance Giesbrecht and Phil Hall’s, Calgary Caper won in a nail biter over Gordon Cristoff’s Brave Nation. Finishing third and hidden on the rail is Kristina, Mathew and Andrew Collins’s front-running Silent Eagle.

Two races later a large field of ten horses were sent off in the $100,000 BC Premier’s. It was won by Kim Peacock, Lance Giesbrecht and Phil Hall’s, Calgary Caper in another tight finish, this one over Gordon Cristoff’s three-year-old Brave Nation. Finishing third in a three-way photo finish was Kristina, Mathew and Andrew Collins’s front-running Silent Eagle. Calgary Caper also took home $55,000 for winning.

“It felt incredible winning this race for many reasons,” said Civaci. “Among them, this was my first Graded race and it meant a lot to me, especially to achieve it this early in my career.”

WORTH NOTING: It’s really going to be interesting to watch the rivalry developing between George Gilbert’s, Summerland, who won $85, 709 this year, and Mr. & Mrs. David Pihl’s, Dancin Shoes ($75, 339) especially since both have only lost a single race in their careers…Don’t we wish every race could be as exciting as this year’s $150,000 BC Derby.  A race that showed when a full field of 12 top horses get together, they can put on one heck of a show.

In case you had not known, it was Alberta invader Sky Promise owned by Rick Wiest, Clayton Wiest, R6 Stable and Norman Tremblay, defeating Weekend Wizard and California based Canadian Game with a strong late run. Sky Promise was trained by Roberto Diodoro and ridden by Rico Walcott.

Last weekend three BC breds won major races at Century Downs in Alberta. On Sunday, Ole Nielsen’s Notice won the $50,000 CTHS Stakes (two-year-old fillies) taking home $30,000. Later in the afternoon, local breeder Terry Clyde’s homebred Purple Storm won the $50,000 Sales Stakes (two-year-olds) and earned $30,000 as well. Monday, Don Danard & Mel Snow’s Driller won the $100,000 Harvest Stakes with Snow’s homebred while collecting the winner’s $60,000 share of the purse.


Always with a smile, jockey Amadeo Perez is wrapping up his third riding title at Hastings. Patti Tubbs photo.

Now that jockey Enrique Gonzalez, who is second in the Hastings jockey standings with 47 winners, has returned home to Mexico City, close friend Amadeo Perez (52) is assured of his third riding title. Rounding out the top five are Aaron Gryder (41), Denis Araujo (34) and Antonio Reyes (29).

As for that top trainer crown, it’s Phil Hall leading the pack with 38 victories, followed by Glen Todd with 28 wins. Mark Cloutier and Mike Anderson are deadlocked for third place (27).

In the owner category, North American Thoroughbred Horse Company, Inc. leads the division in wins with 23 and in money won ($270,355).

This season, we have watched young apprentice jockey Lenny Seecharan win 11 times, two more than Jose Asencio with 9 and seven more than his twin brother Learie Seecharan who has won 4. Each of them has shown promise for next season.

Racing resumes Saturday and Sunday, first post 1:50 p.m.

FINAL ITEM: Wishing all of you reading this newsletter, a safe and prosperous offseason.


Big Dreams on Small Dollars

Since buying his first horse in 1954, veteran trainer Clint Willson has earned over $1,796,060, much of it during a time when purses were considerably smaller

Last Saturday, when promising youngster Finally Gottcha broke his maiden for longtime breeder/owner/trainer Clint Willson some people were wondering if he had another Cinderella horse. For Willson, who bought his first racehorse in 1954, it would not be his only Cinderella story. He won the 1984 edition of the BC Premier’s with Social Round, a horse he purchased as a youngster for $2500 who went on to earn $215,561.

After overcoming some bad luck, Finally Gottcha in only his second start wins for Clint Willson. Four Footed Fotos.

Recalling Social Round could have some people thinking about previous local bargain youngsters who proved that sometimes, if you’re dreaming big, the dream can come true.  Among horses falling into that category is Spaghetti Mouse who was bought as a yearling for $21,000 by Nick and Pauline Felicella and went on to earn just shy of $1 million.

In 2009, local breeder George Robbins entered his yearling, already named Herbie D, into the local Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Sale but it did not meet the $7,500 reserve bid he had set. Robbins bought him back and took him home. Herbie D earned Robbins and partner Darcia Doman $371,441 and won the Longacres Mile (Grade 3).

Another bargain came in the year 2000 when Jason Spevakow and Daryl Snow purchased Cruising Kat for $4,800. He went on to win $234,000. One of my all-time favourites came in 1989 when Brian Migneault bought Twanger for a mere $1,000 and watched him go on to win $423,260.

Three days ago, at his stable, Willson acknowledged that this business can be frustrating, as he explains about his youngster.  “You know what,” said Willson, “a week after he was born, his mother died, and he became orphaned. And we had to get a nurse mare to feed and look after him. For those who know the breeding part of the sport, this can be a very expensive and long journey to keep him healthy. With some special care and lots of time, we were able to get him ready for the races.”

“The first time we entered him,” adds Willson, “he made the also-eligible list and didn’t draw into the race. The next time, I entered him, he got spooked and reared up in the stall. And was a late scratch in the paddock. That incident was totally my fault not the horse. Then in his first official start, he really ran well finishing third, but also getting loads of experience. Considering what he had to overcome, it really made me proud of him.”

It was soon after that rumors began circulating around the track to the effect of Willson having been made a substantial offer to sell the horse. “That story was true, and I turned down that trainer’s offer. But when you only have a one-horse stable, it’s him that keeps me going.”

CHAMPION AWARDS AWAIT! Holiday racing on Thanksgiving Monday will feature the $100,000 Ballerina and $100,000 BC Premier’s, both Grade 3 events. At stake for people with horses involved in those races are the year-end divisional awards that many times go to the winning horses in these two races.

Last year’s Ballerina winner, Notis the Jewel, was named Champion Older Filly/Mare in both the Open & BC Bred Divisions. She has a shot to repeat as this year’s honours could all come down to the results of Monday’s Ballerina.   It drew seven top distaff runners but to claim division honours, someone has to beat Reginella who defeated several of her rivals in the Delta Colleen on September 6.

And for added excitement, the Premier’s goes with 10 of the best older horses in the area.  That means there should be a horse for everyone to take a stand on. Six of the competitors are coming out of the S. W. Randall Plate, including Peter Redekop’s Absolutely Stylish who was six lengths the best in the Randall. In 2014, after Redekop’s Alert Bay won the Premier’s, he received the Vanderbilt Trophy for ‘Horse of the Year’.

NOTES ON A PROGRAM: Trainer Mel Snow reports he has shipped multi-talented runner Driller to Century Downs in Alberta to race in the seven-furlong $100,000 Harvest Plate on Monday. “It’s a twelve-horse field”, says Snow, “we drew the two post position, which is good. As for why we’re going, I believe Driller should like that distance. And that race happens to come up at a perfect time.”

Racing resumes at Hastings Sunday and Monday 1:50 pm. NO RACING ON SATURDAY


The Collins Family’s Silent Eagle goes from being a bottom $3000 claimer to recently defeating horses of higher value-Hossy Photo

In 2001, 57 members of the Collins Brothers Racing Stable filed into the winner’s circle at then Hastings Park, to have a photo taken with their home-bred filly, Lady’s Jewel who had won the $35,000 Liberation Stakes.

According to the Hastings Park track photographer, the late Larry Goulding, it was the largest Winners Circle group photo he could recall.  That was until the Hastings Racing Club was formed and a couple hundred members would do a victory line up across the racetrack and have their picture taken.

On last Saturday, as they had done in the past, the Collins family was back to watch their Silent Eagle win the second race on the program.  Again, as with Lady’s Jewel, the winner was trained by Andrew, one of the brothers.  Collins, whose training career began in 1997, has won his fair share of races, but he is the first to admit his training can be considered unorthodox.

“I have no problems with that. I am a critic myself,” said Collins. “I think critics often are our best assets if we use them in the right way.”  The Collins process is a method often referred to as interval training. “First things first, I love my horses,” says Collins, ” Every horse is different. And often don’t spend enough time on the racetrack.  There are many ways of interval training. Because I exercise my own horses, I’ll give them a warm-up, followed with a two-minute mile, then a ten-minute rest, followed by another two-minute mile. It’s not for every horse. During the off-season, I’ll take my horses to Campbell Valley Park.  There we go trail riding for miles and miles. It’s not a problem to ride them for eleven kilometers.”

Last fall, Collins claimed Silent Eagle $4000. “It took a while to figure the horse out,” said Collins.  After making some changes and needing to win a race, he decided to run Silent Eagle for $3,000, knowing he would like the longer distance.  He was rewarded with a win.  He moved the horse up to $12,500 and won in the second start at that level. His next two races were against tougher competition, including a stakes try.   Silent Eagle pressed the pace in the Randall Plate before tiring against the best older horses on the grounds.  That occasioned a drop to $25,000 claiming company last week.   Collins decided to take some weight off by using apprentice (jockey) Lenny Seecharan and Silent Eagle led all the way to score by almost a length.

As for Silent Eagle’s next race, “I’m thinking about the $100,000 Premiers on October 8,” Collins said.

THE NEXT GENERATION:  Because of its two-day a week schedule Hastings is without a doubt one of the toughest race meetings for trainers and jockeys to break into and become successful.  Watching young apprentice jockeys Jose Ascencio and the Seecharan twins (Learie and Lenny) grind out a living at Hastings, one has to be impressed and all three say they’ll be returning next season.

Apprentice jockey Lenny Seeharan won two races on Saturday. – Patti Tubbs

“I enjoy it here because, at home in Trinidad, we only race one day a week,” said Lenny Seecharan. ” My brother and I are getting a chance to ride with good jockeys like Richard (Hamel) and Denis (Araujo) who always are willing to teach us and explain our mistakes while not yelling at us.  Instead, they take us aside to explain what we’ve done wrong.  It’s really a nice experience for us young riders.”

Summerland wins THE SPAGHETTI MOUSE on 07/15/18

RACE WORTH WATCHING:  Two major races are on tap this weekend at Hastings, both of which could have major implication on year-end divisional titles.  Saturday’s first race, the $75,000 Fantasy, brings together George Gilbert’s Summerland and Mr. & Mrs. David Pihl’s Dancing Shoes.  Sunday’s $75,000 Ascot has nine youngsters hoping to bring their owners a divisional crown.

Weekend racing at Hastings starts at 1:50 p.m. on Saturday and continues at the same time on Sunday.



With only eight more days remaining in this year’s horse racing schedule at Hastings Racecourse (October 14 is the last day), everyone’s is pondering how fast time flew by this season. And judging by the fall weather from previous seasons, horses and jockeys should begin getting ready for Vancouver’s typical fall clouds and rain.

Conquering the elements

It’s a time when jockeys start thinking about what to wear and how to handle horses racing on muddy or sloppy racing surfaces, particularly horses unaccustomed to racing on track surfaces they’ve never raced on before.

There’s a good chance, when watching a race run on a sloppy racing surface, you’ve wondered how horses can see what’s going during a race.  While it may appear that horses are disadvantaged compared to goggle equipped riders, according to veterinarian journals, that’s not the case.  Horses upper eyelids are larger and can move more than the lower lid. Unlike humans, horses also have a third eyelid (nictitating membrane) to protect the cornea. It lies on the inside corner of the eye and closes diagonally over it, acting as a windshield wiper and giving them a better view than the jockey riding them.

For jockey Jeff Burningham, waterproof jackets, riding pants and goggles are all an important part of his riding equipment – Patti Tubbs

As for jockeys, many have several ways of coping with various track surfaces. ” It’s crucial to be wearing the right riding clothing. My rain gear consists of a waterproof jacket and riding pants,” said Jeff Burningham. ” and depending on track conditions, I decide how many goggles to use. If it’s muddy, I’ll take four or five pairs, because when mud comes back it can really hurt. It’s like being hit with a snowball.  It is not as bad when the track is sloppy.”

Jockey Sean Civaci’s is all smiles after a riding victory on a sloppy racing surface – Tyler Photos

Jockey Sahin Civaci provides more insight into preparing to ride on an off-track. “Before going out to ride my race,” said Civaci, ” I’ll study the ‘Daily Racing Form’ to see if my horse handles the track condition.  That way I know if they will care for a sloppy or muddy racetrack.”


Although they never raced against each other, two of our local Hastings favourites, BC Stables and Paul Caravetta’s Here’s Hannah and Red Leaf Stables Daz Lin Dawn, could become best buddies over the winter months.  Both are spending their winter month in side by side paddocks at Roads End Farm in Langley, BC.

“It’s quite nice,” said Jack Bennett, “seeing both Daz Lin Dawn and Here’s Hannah here is really special.  Particularly since we also have their two dams (mothers) on our farm.”


It appears the battle for this season’s Hastings jockey title with Amadeo Perez (45 wins) and Enrique Gonzalez (43 wins) will go right down to the last day of the meeting. Ironically, both riders who hail from Mexico are longtime best buddies.  They are followed by Aaron Gryder with 34 wins while Denis Araujo and Antonio Reyes are tied with 28 victories.

In the race for top trainer, Phil Hall with 34 wins holds a commanding lead over Mark Cloutier and Glen Todd who are tied for the second spot, each having won 23 times.

Topping the owners list are North American Thoroughbred Horse Company, Inc. with 18 wins and Rob and Sheena Maybin with 15 victories.


Racing resumes Saturday and Sunday with the usual 1:50 pm post time on both days.



One of the most interesting and mysterious occupations inside the world of horse racing is that of a jockey’s agent. Persons who work behind the scenes with jockeys that we hardly ever get to know anything about what they do.

But, we do know in many cases what is needed to get started as an agent is a pencil and some patience. At Hastings Racecourse, there are five jockey agents representing the majority of the leading riders.

The top two jockeys in the standings as of September are Enrique Gonzalez and Amadeo Perez. They both have Agent, Travis (Trapper) Barroby, who has now added David Lopez to his list of Jockeys. Longtime agent Gord Rumble represents Aaron Gryder and Richard Hamel. While former rider, now agent Chad Hoverson works for Denis Araujo and Apprentice rider Learie Seecharan. With the dean of local agents Wayne Snow booking mounts for Silvino Morales and Wayne’s brother Daryl handling red-hot Antonio Reyes. Two riders booking their own rides are Sahin Civaci and Jeffer​y Burningham.

“This can be a pretty tough place,” said agent Hoverson. “There are so many stables already committed to jockeys it makes it very tough to find live horses (horses with a high chance of winning) to ride. There’s just less and less availability, the options are not there, you can work as hard as you can but the top horses are not there for you to ride.”

This sums up how tough it has become for some very capable riders to catch the eyes of trainers. Which makes this interesting for local racing fans, but extremely difficult for some seasoned jockeys to best show their skills.

KUDOS: Among strong performances from last weekend’s BC Derby was Antonio Reyes riding both winners of the $100,000 Sadie Diamond (Dancin Shoes) and the $100,000 Jack Diamond Futurity (Dat Day).

For agent Daryl Snow, it was an afternoon to remember. “Antonio and I have been together for three years,” said Snow, “and ever since we got together, it was always the case, I was working for him, not the opposite. And the first time he exercised Dancin Shoes, she was young and unraced. He came back with this big smile, telling Barb and me, she’s going to be a good one.”

Reyes was right, in her first start ($50,000 BC Debutante) she won easily. The two-year-old Cross Traffic filly followed that victory up easily winning Saturday’s $100,000 Sadie Diamond Futurity.

Unbeaten Dancin Shoes owned by Mr. & Mrs. David Pihl with Antonio Reyes in the saddle shown winning the $100,000 Sadie Diamond Futurity. – Four Footed Fotos

Staying with Dancin Shoes, she was bred and owned by Kelowna’s, David and Delaurlyn Pihl. “Dancin Shoes was a late foal,” said Pihl. “And while her mother (Andtheliviniseasy) was giving birth, she developed complications. And began hemorrhaging then our vet told us, she was going to die and we should get the foal out immediately. As soon as we got the baby was out, the mare got so excited and jumped to her feet. For the next few days, my wife bottled fed the foal with fluids. And she began getting better. We quickly noticed the foal was very smart and a fast learner. But, because she was a late foal, we were having trouble selling her to anyone or take to a yearling sale. She’s (Dancin Shoes) really an amazing story and we’re so blessed with what happened.”

The owners are hoping her next race will be the $75,000 Fantasy on September 29. Among her possible rivals, are George Gilberts, Summerland, with an impressive earlier win on the Derby Day program. Now, this would make for one exciting race for everyone.

KUDOS CONTINUES! Owners B C Stables & Paul Caravetta and trainer John Morrison for wisely making the correct decision to give the amazing Here’s Hannah, winner of the $100,000 British Columbia Oaks, a breakaway from racing for the winter.

“Here’s Hanna has been a dream horse for us.” said Morrison, “she has done everything we asked her to do. So she is going to the farm for some rest and relation. It’s our way of saying ‘Thank You’ for giving us so much joy.”

Among many fans who attended Hastings for the $150,000 BC Derby were former Vancouver Canuck greats Daniel and Henrik Sedin and the Honorarble Wally Oppal – Hossy Photos

Thanks to Greg (Dr. Sport) Douglas, Director of Media Relations and Special Events at Hastings Racecourse, for inviting the Sedin twins (Henrik and Daniel) and the Honourable Wally Oppal to be guest presenters on BC Derby Day.

A big thank you also to the local horse breeders for putting on a great Yearling and Mixed Sale Tuesday at Thunderbird Show Park. “Overall the sale was a success,” said Ole Nielson, President of BCTOBA, “I think the quality horse’s sold well. Which was good most of the horses sold, all in all our main objective is having horses remain in this Province, which I feel was accomplished.”



Tomorrow is the 73rd running of The British Columbia Derby Day  at Hastings Racecourse, often referred to as the biggest and most important day of racing in this province.
And as with each year, this event keeps growing in stature and importance to the racing industry. For instance, Saturday’s race card offers $550,000 in purse money for owners whose horse’s are fortunate to make it into the winner’s circle.
Included in that large total of money to be won, is the creme de la creme of the afternoon. The $150,000 British Columbia Derby (8th race) will run with a full field of top three-year-olds. Interestingly, unlike many top races, because this is a ‘Derby’ the same horse cannot be victorious twice in this race.
The afternoon also includes five major stake races with large purses available. This is including the $100,000 BC Oaks, $100,000 Jack Diamond Futurity, $100,000 Sadie Diamond Futurity, $50,000 Delta Colleen and $50,000 S.W. Randal Plate.   
Since its origin back in 1946, winning the British Columbia Derby Trophy has become a prize every horse owner dreams of winning. One can only imagine what must be going through the veins of anyone connected with a horse entering the starting gate, ready to run in the most prestigious race in this Province.  

anadian Derby Sky Promise Amber Bracken

In the $150,000 British Columbia Derby there will be a full field of twelve horses entering the starting gate. This is a race devoid of a heavy favourite, however Sky Promise is at odds of 3-1. Sky Promise a good closer has drawn the #6 post. Trained by Robertino Diodoro, ridden by Alberta based jockey Rico Walcott, who already has three Derby victories, including last years B.C. Derby aboard, Chief Know It All, 2014 Alert Bay and 2013 Title Contender. Weekend Wizard (7/2) has shown speed in previous races and could be a major factor, trained by Craig MacPherson and Richard Hamel in the irons. Hamel also is a winner of this race three times , 2012 aboard Second City, 2010 with Majestically and 2001 with Fancy As. Also generating interest Day Raider, (6-1) trained by Craig MacPherson will have Antonio Reyes in the saddle.  Trainers Diodoro (winning in 2017) and MacPherson (winning in 2012) will be going for their second victory in this race.
Other races worth noting with questions, in the Co-Featured $100,000 BC Oaks, can Here’s Hannah (5-2) trained masterfully by John Morrison continue on with her winning ways with regular jockey Richard Hamel?


In the $50,000 Sadie Diamond Futurity will Dancin Shoes trained by Barb Heads and ridden by Antonio Reyes, win as convincingly this start as she did in the BC Debutante?

Will a potential future superstar emerge from the $100,000 Jack Diamond Futurity? Can popular owner Peter Redekop continue his winning ways with a victory in the $50,000 S W Randall Plate with the Phil Hall trained, Absolutely Stylish and Enrique Gonzalez in the irons?

Next, can any of our local runners, Notis the Jewell, Daz Lin Dawn, Yukon Belle, Sailingforthesun or Touching Promise handle Emerald Downs invaders Reginella or Top Quality, as mentioned, should make of an exciting race for regulars and fans

BEGINS WITH A YOUNGSTER: Chances are if you were asked to name horse ratings biggest day. Your first answer would be when racetracks hold their biggest races. true but not entirely true, when in reality horse racing’s biggest day begins at a horse sale. Such as the upcoming CTHS Yearling and Mixed Sale at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley September 11 (Tuesday) at 11 p.m.
It is here, the horse racing industry falls or rises. It is on that afternoon horse breeder who after spending their last two years of trying to find that right mating between stallion and mare hope to see their efforts rewarded?
Horse racing is a sport that uses a simple formula. Horses. “And without breeders who raise the horse, there is no racing. Somebody has to raise the horses for owners to buy. Owners come to the sale hoping to see something they like,” said local horse breeder Rob Anderson.
“At a yearling sale, everyone is looking for a bargain. And while everyone is looking for a bargain, you hope the price reached is acceptable to owner and breeder.”
And for some prices paid for young horses at this sale has far surpassed their wildest dreams. Among the biggest surprises?

M& &.Mrs Nick and Pauline Felicella’s all time BC bred winner ($940,000) Spaghetti Mouse shown winning the Lieutenant Governors at Hastings

It was at the 2003 CTHS Yearling Sale, Nick and Pauline Felicella purchased a young chestnut horse for $21,000. They named him Spaghetti Mouse after their Commercial street restaurant. The ‘Mouse’ went to become one of the most popular horses in local racing. Earning over $940,000 for his owners and is now the all-time leading money horse bred in B.C.

Proving it does pay to own a BC Bred.
GIVING BACK: This year as they have done in the past, Hastings jockeys ‘on their own’  will have their ‘Jockey Silent Auction’ at the CTHS Yearling Sale September 11th (Tuesday)

3 pm

at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley.

The money raised not only goes to help sick or injured riders. Also, money raised also goes to help people in need on the backstretch, the fire fund in the Interior, the Riding for the Disabled and Children’s Hospital
. It’s a well-run charity and our local jockeys are only too happy and willing to support.





Hard to believe owner Glen Todd and jockey Aaron Gryder huge success began with a simple phone call – Hossy Photos.

Last Saturday, Hastings Racecourse racing fans were treated to a rare sight when jockey Aaron Gryder won five races in a row including three $50,000 BC Sales Stakes. For those who often wonder how much money the horses, he rode had earned, the numbers are high.

Last week at Hastings, Gryder’s mounts earned $110,020, bringing this years total to $763,225, thus far his mounts have won a lifetime total of $120,827,258.

For many this brings up the question, how did this top notch jockey come to ride at Hastings Racecourse?

A few years ago local horse owner, Glen Todd called jockey Aaron Gryder about possibly coming to Hastings Racecourse to ride for him.

Little would they have known that this would turn into a positive scenario for them and also for our local horse racing industry?

“It was while riding in Southern California,” said Gryder, “I had gotten to know Glen, so when he called, it wasn’t as if we were strangers. He wanted to know if I would be interested in riding for him in Vancouver and if I wouldn’t mind flying to Vancouver and having lunch with him. I told him I would love to, but was committed to leaving in a few days to ride in Dubai (UAE). Then without missing a beat, Glen suggests tomorrow. So the next day, I’m on a plane heading to Vancouver for lunch and having a great conversation.

“After talking through a few things, Glen asks if I’d be interested this year in riding for him on a full-time basis. A few hours later, I’m flying back to California; knowing that when I returned from Dubai, I would be in Vancouver riding for him.”

Incidentally, when asked if there were any outside parties involved in these discussions, his answer was a resounding no.

Gryder is among a few jockeys presently riding in North America known internationally.

“I’ve been to Saudi Arabia, thirty-one times,” Gryder said, “and have ridden in Hong Kong for six months, got to ride in Australia along with Royal Ascot and York in England.

“To me, it’s all part of the game you love and enjoy so much. As for how many tracks I’ve ridden at, I would have to say, many more than I ever thought and loving every moment of it.”

As for all that traveling, because of his many contacts in the sport, he arranges most of the international traveling himself. Yet, for all his success, he still has a place in his heart for those competing at smaller racetracks.

Early this week, Gryder was named ‘Jockey of the Week’ by a panel made up from 950 members of the Jockeys Guild.

It was awarded to him, for his five-victory day last Friday at Hastings. “That was really an honour,” said Gryder, “because it gives jockeys riding at smaller racetrack a chance to say they can also do it and get recognition. And made winning this ‘Jockey of the Week’ award extra special.”

WHAT’S UP: For horse racing fans there are lots of exciting events approaching quickly…Tonight’s the last Friday night of racing this season, first race 7 p.m. Next racing date Monday, September 3 at 6 p.m. Followed by a rare Wednesday, September 5 (Courtesy of the PNE) at 6 p.m…

Fans of former local jockey Mario Gutierrez (two-time Kentucky Derby Winner) will be happy to know, he’s scheduled to ride here on BC Derby Day September 8th. …

If you have never been to a horse sale, check out the CTHS Yearling & Mixed Sales on September 11th at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley. For information: 604-534-2847…

North American Thoroughbred Horse Company is holding an Open House at Keenbridge Farms in Langley on Tuesday, Sept. 4th. It will be a great time to see the youngsters they’ll have going in the CTHS Sale. For information: 604-542-6640…

Big purse money is up for grabs September 8, with the 73rd running of the $150,000 BC Derby attracting a fine field of runners.

Also, that afternoon is the $100,000 BC Oaks, $50,000 SW Randall Plate, $50,000 Delta Colleen, $50,000 Jack Diamond Futurity and $50,000 Sadie Diamond Futurity…

Jockey : Jeffrey Burningham
Owner: Larissa Burningham

Finally, a shout out to the hard-working Burningham Family, who won Monday’s first race with their gelding Instant Cash, ridden by papa Jeff, trained by wife Lacie and owned by Larissa, one of the hardest working families in the backstretch at Hastings…

Canyon Farm’s Day Raider appears to be heading for the $150,000 BC Derby on September 8 – Patti Tubbs

Canyon Farm’s Day Raider who placed second in Saturday’s $200,000 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park in Edmonton, with jockey Antonio Reyes is nominated for the aforementioned BC Derby at Hastings.



The veteran 11-year-old Toccets’ Charm won his 23rd race in his 100th start last Friday, with Salin Civaci in the saddle. – Four Footed Fotos
This could be filed under why we love horse racing. Last Friday, Toccet’s Charm owned by Jim Brown and Terry Elsener won his 23rd race defeating rivals young enough to be his grandchildren. Making this story more interesting is that it was also the 11 year-olds  100th start.
After considering the average age of a racehorse retiring at six or seven years old, one has to wonder if perhaps Toccet’s Charm has maybe discovered the fountain of youth.
Like many veteran athletes who are traded from team to team, Toccet’s Charm also has had his share of traveling around the horse racing circuit.
Bred in Virginia in 2007, he won his racing debut as a two-year-old in 2009 at Delaware Park in Wilmington, DE. USA.
Since that first victory, Toccet’s Charm has raced at 18 racetracks. Like many professional athletes with managers guiding their careers, he’s also had his fair share of trainers and jockeys.
Thus far, he ‘s had nine different trainers guiding his career. Adding an amazing 43 different jockeys have ridden him.
The veteran 11-year-old Toccets’ Charm won his 23rd race in his 100th start last Friday, with Salin Civaci in the saddle. – Four Footed Fotos
“He’s also brought a lot of wonderful memories for those who have been around him,” said current trainer Jim Brown.
“I first trained him, maybe five years ago and because he is such a cool horse to be around, I decided to claim him back.
In fact, everyone who has been around him loves him. He also has the perfect temperament for a racehorse. Another major factor is he’s easy to train, he’s such a laid-back horse, sometimes this has cost him the race,”
That lackadaisical style of running sometimes has been a concern for his regular jockey Sahin Civaci.
“He’s incredible, especially for his age,” says Civaci.  “He can be a bit stubborn sometimes in a race. I guess with all his experience, he feels he knows what’s best for him in a race, which cost me a few races,”  Civaci said. The jockey continued with his memories of the old-timer. ” I’ve had several seconds on him in Phoenix, which could have been firsts if he would have listened to me. Riding him in his 100 start and winning with him was simply awesome. It was something, I’ll always remember.”
During his long career, Toccet’s Charm has won 23 races with 19 seconds and 17 thirds winning $278,840. Which means, this incredible eleven-year-old racehorse has one win for almost every four starts, pretty an amazing record for this veteran warrior.
RACING UNDER THE  LIGHTS: Friday night racing returns on the right track, with a fine seven-race program that includes four $50,000 Stakes races for BC Breds. 
DAZ LIN DAWN winning The BC Cup ogwood with jockey Richard Hamel up.
Don’t be fooled by the short field in the $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes (3&4 year-old Fillies) racing a mile and a sixteenth distance. This race is shaping up as handicappers delight and marks the return of last years Horse of the Year, Red Leaf Stables Daz Lin Dawn.
 The popular filly is returning to her home track after a fourth-place finish in the $50,000 Emerald Downs Stakes run August 12. Either of her rivals could be worth a wager, Nick and Pauline Felicella’s Cypress Park is coming off a victory in a recent allowance race at Hastings. The third and final filly is R. N. H. Stables always competitive, Yukon Belle who finished third in the $50,000 BC Cup Distaff run August 6th at Hastings,
In the second race, the $50,000 CTHS Sales for two-year-old fillies, seven horses with a strong future hopefully ahead for them and their owners will enter the starting gate.
The early favourite, Honky Tonk Woman owned by Nick and Pauline Felicella is coming off a third-place finish in the BC Debutante.
Third race proves interesting as eight youngsters compete for a major portion of the  $50,000 in the CTHS Sales Stake for two-year-old Colts and Geldings.
With only Swift Thoroughbreds, Bugsy having won a race, he appears the winning choice. Although sometimes with a race like this, there’s a possibility of witnessing an unsuspecting rising star appear before our eyes.
The $50,000 CTHS Sale’s Stakes for three and four – year – old shapes up to be a burner with any of the entrants taking home the major part of this huge purse.
The field includes Riversedge Racings, Strate Remark (4-5) coming off a good second at Emerald Downs who with his speed could go to wire to wire. His opposition could come from any of his five rivals. As mentioned, maybe a race well worth watching.
NOTES ON A PROGRAM: Several connections from Hastings Racecourse visit Northlands Park in Edmonton, Alberta for Sunday’s $200,000 Canadian Derby. Canyon Farm’s Day Tripper trained by Craig MacPherson and ridden by Antonio Reyes is 7/2. Local jockeys Denis Araujo and Amadeo Perez also have rides in the race…Racing resume tonight 7 p.m. and Monday 6. pm (Note Time)



In 2002, Joe Horton was recognized for his 27 years as Director of Horse Racing in B.C.  It was during a dinner in his honour, he was asked his thoughts on retiring from a sport he enjoyed so much.  He replied, “I’m leaving this sport with a wealth of memories,” in a Vancouver Province ‘Hoss Talk’ column from 2002. “Looking back, I’ll miss many of the Damon Runyon characters like Jack the Rake, Two-Beer Jack and Gyp the Blood, a few people who always made you smile.”

Horton was speaking of the many characters who frequented the ‘Sport of Kings’ as it was called back then. People defined in many dictionaries as ‘someone with the quality of being individual, typically in an interesting or unusual way’. Horse racing back then was a sport where many so-called characters worked and usually frequented.

Among them, John ‘Blackie’ Lawrence, among top jockey agents in the Pacific Northwest. Who when asked why he was so successful, replied. ”I never asked a rider about a horse and never called one up either,” said Lawrence. ” Why, heck, they don’t know anything anyway. I don’t mind a jockey telling me about a horse he exercised feeling good, but really do not need a jock telling me what horse to ride. As for my secret for riding winners, it’s simple. You ride for trainers who know what they’re doing. I don’t want to ride for any dummies who don’t know anything at all.”

While nearly all those characters are now missing from the sport, there’s still the odd interesting characters at nearly every racetrack in operation.

Hastings Racecourse is no exception.  John (Buff) Varga, who began working around horses at age 13, now a few decades later, is still enjoying life as a man of many trades. In fact, when it comes to horses, there’s not much Varga hasn’t done.

“I guess being part ‘Native Indian’,” said Varga, “my love for horses comes naturally. There are not many jobs I haven’t done around horses.”

Chances are whenever you’re at the races, you’ve seen him escorting many of the top horses at Hastings in the paddock prior to their racing.

“Buff is my go to guy,” said trainer Nancy Betts. “When it comes to getting horses to the paddock quietly, he’s the man, even if they’re hard to manage, many trainers will try and get Buff if there in a pinch.” He also walks horses in the morning, feeds them and  works with farriers (Blacksmiths). “Anything to do with horses,” said Varga, “because, I feel attached to them, there’s nothing I can’t do around a horse.”

The list of horses he has worked with is impressive. And Includes Daz Lin Dawn, Notis Otis and Here’s Hannah, also past champions Smiley’s Dream and Barbex, the list goes on and on.

“Buff will come by the barn,” adds Betts, “put a few beers in the fridge then just does his own thing. He lives at the track and If you visit his tack room by barn M, it’s set up like a home, with tables and chairs and a few BBQ’S. It’s quite unique what he’s done there.”



Time is approaching fast, when connections for many equine stars we’ve watched run at Hastings, start to get ready for the equine awards season that lies ahead.

In the two-year-old category, George Gilbert’s Ring of Kerry who captured the $50,000 BC Cup Nursery Stakes (C&G) in a rather convincing style, may have a little wait ahead before his next race. “Because he’s a Kentucky bred,” said Hall. “Unless an extra race comes up, his next race will be the  75,000 Ascot Stakes in late September.”

Longshot winner Dancin Shoes, owned by Mr. & Mrs. David Pihl draws away from her field winning the $50,000 BC Debutante, ridden by Antonio Reyes, trained by Barb heads. – Four Footed Fotos

In the same category (Fillies), Mr. & Mrs. David Pihl’s, Dancin Shoes who easily won the $50,000 BC Cup Debutante in convincing form,  next race is the   $100,000 Sadie Diamond Futurity also late September.


Ever steady Calgary Caper, owned by Peacock, Giesbrecht & Hall shown winning the $50,000 BC Cup Classic with Sahin Cirvaci riding – Four Footed Fotos

As for Calgary Caper, owned by Peacock, Hall & Giesbrecht who handily won the $50,000 BC Cup Classic? According to trainer Phil Hall his next start the $50,000 SW Randall Plate on  September 8. In the $50,000 BC Cup Sir Winston Churchill (3-year-olds) won by Day Raider, owned by Canyon Farms , his  next race will be the $150,000 Canadian Derby in Edmonton (August 25) according to trainer, Craig MacPherson. Look for Here’s Hannah, owned by BC Stables & Paul Caravetta winner of  the $50,000 Hong Kong Jockey Club, next start the BC Oaks (September 8).

NOTES ON A PROGRAM: 2017 Horse of the Year, Daz Lin Dawn has been nominated for the $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes (3-4 YO Fillies) run August 24…

Friday and Monday night racing begins this week. Live racing resumes tonight at 7:00 p.m. and Monday night at 6:00 p.m.




For everyone involved with Monday’s BC Cup Day, the afternoon created lots of smiles not only for those with horses connected to this very successful day, it was also bonus time for racing fans. As it proved giving the right circumstances horse racing still is very much alive in this province.

Among multiple highlights and rest assured there were many, included the victory by Canyon Farms, three-year-old Day Raider who won the $50,000 Sir Winton Churchill Derby Trial.

Canyon Farms owners are Terry and Wally Leong who call Kelowna home. Among top horses they have bred and raced, Illusive Force ($458,134), Lord Samarai ($294.370), Lord Shogun ($242,882) and Strait of Dover. Strait of Dover who went on and captured the $1,000,000 Queens Plate in 2012, giving him $749,628 in money won. And also named Sovereign Award winner for 2012.  With horse racing as is with life, things can change in a heartbeat.

It was July 12, 2013, they received news that Strait of Dover had not recovered from an operation for a twisted colon and had to be euthanized at Milton Equine Hospital in Toronto.

“When doctors opened him up that Friday,” said Terry Leong, by telephone in 2013, “they thought he would be fine. But by Sunday realized, he was not going to get better. It was quite the shock.”  The Leong’s as everyone who breeds and own horses, think of their horses as their children.  This was hard  for them along with everyone

Else   on their farm.

Since their Queens Plate victory, they’ve cut back somewhat. “You could say that’s true, ” said Wally Leong, “because of my age and physical problems, Terry is now doing most of the strenuous work with our horses,  which is why I couldn’t be there to watch Day Raider run.” Instead, Terry drove down with close neighbors Russ and Lois Bennett who had Touching Promise racing that afternoon.

“She was really excited about the win.” added  Leong, “She got to take home the flowers and trophy. And later talked with our trainer Craig (MacPherson), who feels our horse  may want to race a longer distance, possibly the Canadian Derby in Edmonton, who knows, we’ll just have to wait and see.”Through all the highs and lows, they remain in love with horse racing.

THE PLACE TO BE: For forty-three years, the late Jack Short called 50,000 races always closing the races with “Adios Amigos’, making one think, perhaps, he was onto something.

Since arriving from other countries, the Seechran twins, Enrique Gonzalez and Denis Araujo have proven to be an asset to Hastings Racecourse.

On BC Cup day in the winner’s circle, there was an increasing amount of international jockeys. Mexican born jockey Antonio Reyes won an astonishing five races including three $50,000 BC Cup Stakes, also BC born, Richard Hamel captured two races, while Sahin Civaci (Turkey) and M A Rodriguez (Mexico) each had a victory.

As to why this is happening, perhaps younger Canadian do not want to pursue a career that depends on constant weight watching, long days of labor and the fact that it’s also a very dangerous job. Those reasons alone could explain the reason why horse racing is changing.

Here are just a few examples. While growing up in Mexico, a young Antonio Reyes had dreams of one day becoming a jockey. Among his close neighbors was  Enrique Gonzalez, already established as a top rider at Hipódromo de las Américas, in Mexico City. Reyes asked him how he could became a jockey.  Gonzalez who had already ridden at Hasting’s in 2017 finishing second in the riders standings with 51 wins, suggested Reye’s give Hastings in Vancouver Canada a try.

“What is happening,” says jockey Denis Araujo who arrived at a Hastings last season. “it’s become well known in horse racing that Vancouver (Hastings) has a reputation for being a great track to help jump-start a jockey’s career. This also gives them a better chance to perhaps maybe move on towards riding in the U.S,” he concluded.

Last season, youngster apprentice jockey Lenny Seecharan arrived from Trinidad with dreams of making it at Hastings. Seecharan while arriving late in the season, still won six races. When he went home told twin brother Learie, also a young rider to give Hastings a chance. After arriving to Vancouver, both are riding at our local racetrack.

NOTES ON PROGRAM: While it was an especially good afternoon

Longshot winner Dancin Shoes upsets her rivals in the $50,000 BC Cup Debutante Stakes – Four Footed Fotos

for those who won races on BC Cup Day, it was even a greater day for several owners of BC Breds who won races and received some of the $150,000 Incentives Awards offered.  Among recipients, Here’s Hannah, ($25,000) BC Stables and Paul Caravetta. Notis the Jewell ($25,000), Mark & Larry Fielding, Cherie Moryson and Chris Derose, Dancin Shoes. David and Delaurlyn Pihl ($25,000) and an additional $10,000 winning a race in higher races… The Chances R, Mel Snow & Conrad Rozenek, (10,000). Dorys Darlin, Blue Willow Dairy & Pat Jarvis ($10,000)… Bonus racing at Hastings, the popular Corgi dogs are racing Sunday, preliminary heats after Races 1, 2, 3 & 4. The championship final runs after Race 6 at approx. 4:30 p.m. and don’t forget your cameras.


Racing resumes tonight at 7::00 pm.


Special ‘Thank you’ to Horsemen and Owners at Hastings Racecourse for their valuable support promoting our wonderful sport

Enjoy this wonderful weekend