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.
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.
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.
NOTES ON A PROGRAM:
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.