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 





This holiday Monday is BC Cup Day at Hastings Racecourse. For horse racing fans along with those who have never attended the races, this honestly is that afternoon when you really want to be at  Hastings Racecourse for a truly exciting event.

It was 1995 when several members of the local thoroughbred breeding industry came together for a brainstorming session to find new ways to promote thoroughbred horses bred in British Columbia and that is how the beginning of BC Cup Day began.

Through the years, names of horses who have won on BC Cup Day resembles a who’s who of horses who had raced in the northwest.

Legendary trainer George Cummins who won the first BC Cup race in 1995 with Ken Walter’s Overtime Victory – Photo – Jackie Humber

Ken Walters, Overtime Victory trained by the late George Cummins and ridden by Frank Fuentes won the first BC Cup Classic in 1995.  Amir Vahabzadeh’s, Artic Son trained by Cindy Krasner, ridden Gerry Olguin won the first of three BC Cup Classics beginning in 1997. This gave the owner and trainer a rare three-peat.

In 1998, already a multiple stake winner, Mr. and Mrs. C.A Robert’s Strawberry Morn, trained by legendary Alan (AJ) Jack won her second BC Cup trophy (1996 BC Stallion Stakes).


As for horses more recognizable, for Shamrock Racing Stables was Crazy Prophet, then trained by John Snow won two BC Cup Classics (2016/2017). While Mr. & Mrs. R. J. Bennett’s Touching Promise trained by Barb Heads and ridden by Amadeo Perez goes for her second victory in a BC Cup race ( $75,000 Pacific Customs Brokers Distaff  Handicap 2016).

As for Monday’s BC Cup, it could become one of the strongest races on the afternoon program. The total purse money beginning at $370,000 and bonuses of $25,000 to owners if their winning horse is a BC Bred, except in the Marathon race. Total purses for the afternoon could reach $540,000 and with that kind of money up for grabs, the public can expect an afternoon to remember.


AT THE WIRE: With many of your favourite horses entered for BC Cup Day, here’s a brief rundown of several races. However be forewarned, jockeys are not the best handicappers of horses. Trust me as a former jockey, whenever we stepped into the jocks room to ride, we would go there thinking we’re invincible and only to realize at days end, horse racing is about horses, not jockeys.

Kim Peacock, Phil Hall and Lance Giesbrecht’s Calgary Caper with Sahin Cirvaci riding will be aiming for victory in the $50,000 BC Cup Classic Monday at Hastings. MICHAEL BYE PHOTO

In the $50,000 BC Cup Classic, Kim Peacock, Phil Hall and Lance Giesbrecht’s Calgary Caper, ridden by the improving Sahin Civaci, appears to be a top horse in this race. Calgary Caper proved his standings after his impressive win in the $50,000 Lt. Governors.  Among the tough contenders, NATHC, R. Morrison and P. Tom’s, Hansen’s Victory a front-runner who once again could carry his speed throughout this mile and an eighth distance.

Mr. & Mrs. R J Bennetts veteran mare goes for her third BC Cup win in the $50,000 BC Cup Distaff Monday at Hastings – Photo – Patti Tubbs

In the 50,000 BC Cup Distaff, Mr. & Mrs. R J Bennett’s, eight-year-old mare Touching Promise, trained by Barb Heads ridden by veteran rider Denis Araujo loves the track, distance, and this race. While not having been on top of her game thus far, hard not to pull for this grand old mare at least for sentimental reasons. However, as they say in horse racing, never wager with your heart, but once in a while, one has to break the rules.

Touching Promise’s rivals, R.N.H Stables Yukon Belle also trained by Heads, ridden by the consistent Antonio Reyes will also be in contention.

This is a race with lots of speed and could favor Riversedge Racing Stables, Curlish Figure (Love the name) trained by Craig MacPherson, ridden by ever steady Aaron Gryder. In her last race the $75,000 Shirley Vargo Memorial at Northlands Park in Alberta, she showed some closing kick, which could make her a major contender.

In the $50,000 Hong Kong Jockey Club (Three-year-old Fillies)  BC Stables & Paul Caravetta’s Here’s Hannah, trained by the very capable John Morrison, ridden by always reliable Richard Hamel faces off against her only conqueror, Peter Redekop’s Toni Ann’s Miracle, trained by leading trainer, Phil Hall and ridden by the racing savvy Amadeo Perez. As for who could win this race, it’s too close to call with either of the aforementioned horses in the winner’s circle.

CECIL WILL BE MISSED: On July 28, the horse racing community lost one of their favorites when longtime owner Cecil Peacock passed away at age 91.

His winners included Brother Derek winner of the Santa Anita Derby (1996), BC Derby winner Bobbin For Stars (1997) and Liberty Road awarded BC Horse of the Year (1997). The consummate horse racing lover, Cecil was also gracious with his time when it came to his many friends. His love for the sport is being carried on by daughter Kim and her husband Lance Giesbrecht, who along with trainer Phil Hall, are owners of Hastings favorite Calgary Caper.

The horse racing community sends its ‘Condolences’ to the Peacock family.

Racing resumes on Holiday Monday at 1:50 pm.








1 Hastings trainer Mike Anderson and jockey Keishan Balgobin discuss what happened to their horse after the race and jockeys valet Rob Hensen.   Lisa Thompson Photo

For years, one of the most respected horsemen at Hastings Racecourse has been trainer Mike Anderson. Since receiving his first trainer license in 1982, he has notched a great following of horseplayers and fans.

In 2015 and 2016, Anderson topped all trainers in victories, last season finishing second behind trainer Phil Hall. This year, he’s sitting in third place and challenging the leaders in the most wins category.

Asked how he has remained so consistent over the years? “I believe a lot of it, “said Anderson, “has to do with being able to take many of the horses to the farm (Terry Clyde’s) after they race. There we can turn them out in small pens and they can get out into the sunshine and have a roll on the grass before coming back to the track. Also, it keeps them in the right frame of minds and not having to train on the same surface every day.”

He also mentions the time between races in the northwest can also be a concern. “Here we race a horse usually every two weeks,” adds Anderson. “When ideally every three weeks or eighteen to twenty-one days would be a perfect time for them to recover between races. Here you have to be ready sooner and learn to adapt.”

Anderson, known as a trainer who sometimes claims (Purchase) a horse out of a race and asked what he looks for in doing that? “With me, it’s keeping your eyes open in the mornings,” says Anderson. “Here at Hastings, you want a horse who can run short or long distances. If you have a horse who can only run short, then there’s a good chance they may be in the barn for awhile, which is why it’s crucial to have a horse who is versatile.”

This season, Anderson’s statistics reveal a respectful 19 wins from 119 starts with earnings over $287,000.

It’s a happy group after longshot Convergent with Ruben Lara riding won Sundays 5th race at Hastings, giving jockey Lara his first win of the season. Credit – Four Footed Fotos

DOUBLE DUTY: Last Sunday, jockey Ruben Lara won his first race of the season. This season, some may be asking is this the same jockey who from 2014-2016 ranked among the top 10 riders at Hastings.

The answer is yes. Lara who hails from Mexico and considered by his peers to be a steady reliable journeyman jockey spends his winters at home working around horses and being near his daughter twenty-year-old Carly, who this year became a jockey in that country.

My dream,” says Lara, “is to one day to ride with her in a race either at the Hipodromo de Las Americas racetrack in Mexico City or in Vancouver. She’s doing fine there, but most of all Carly is learning about this new career.”

But for now, his main concern is earning a living to support himself and his family.

“This year when I got back to Hastings, all the jockeys had agents which left me without one and after a week, I decided to go and work as an exercise person in the mornings to pay the bills and would get on from 10 to 15 horses each morning,” said Lara. (Note, exercise fees for galloping a horse is from $12-15 dollars) Lara then made a tough decision.”After weighing one job against the other decided I was making more money being an exercise ride than as a jockey.”

Which led to his winner aboard Convergent at 20-1 last Sunday in the 5th race for trainer Frank Ma. “I had been spending a lot of time with Convergent. “said Lara, “Frank (Ma) mentioned to me, how we got along well and would I want to ride her? Of course, I said yes. I’m so grateful to Frank and the owners for giving me this chance.”

Yes, what’s not to love about this great sport.

. Rising equine star at Hasting’s, George Gilbert’s unbeaten Summerland easily captures the $50,000 Spaghetti Mouse with Ricky Gonzalez riding. – Four Footed Fotos

NOTES ON A PROGRAM: Last weekend there were plenty of multiple winners at Hastings including trainers Phil Hall (3), Mike Anderson (3) and Glen Todd (3). As for jockeys, Aaron Gryder (3), Amadeo Perez (2), Enrique Gonzalez (2) and apprentice jockey Jose Asencio (2)…One has to be impressed with George Gilbert’s Summerland easy victory in the $50,000 Spaghetti Mouse Stakes. Also seeing Rob and Victoria Gilker’s Victress back on track with a win in the $50,000 Monashee. And how about that come from behind win by Peacock, Giesbrecht and Hall’s, Calgary Caper in the $50,000 Lt. Governors…Racing resumes at Hastings this weekend 1:5 p.m.




Whenever you’re at the races and notice an enormous group of people in the winner’s circle, it could only mean one thing that one of two of the Hastings Racing Clubs racing stables has struck again.

Last Sunday, it was Hastings Racing Club 2 and their horse A. F. Indy, that caught the attention of those in attendance.

For this group, it was victory number 10 and brought Horse Racing Club 2’s earnings to over $145,000. That is not bad for an initial investment costing $250.00.

When it started the ‘Club’ didn’t have a horse with the thinking being if they were able to get sixty people to sign up it would be great. The group quickly reached 250 new owners in two weeks.

Since then, some members have gone on their own and purchased shares with friends in other horses. “One person now has multiple horses,” said Richard Yates, General Manager of HRC., “we’re now approaching fifty people who now own all or part shares of a horse.”

It’s safe to say if they weren’t satisfied they wouldn’t be back.

Another attraction is membership fees cover stabling, Veterinarian and Ferrier costs, plus training and other expenses.

“To be part of a club and share in the experience,” said member Gloria Russo, “It’s awesome,  to go to the paddock and talk to other members. it’s one of the coolest things I did. What is also great was a few weeks ago they held fan appreciation day in the tent at Hastings and that was really a nice gesture for the club members.”

FINALLY RECOGNIZED:  Last Sunday, was “Groom Appreciation Day” and thanks to a local owner, one horse in each race was chosen for its appearance by a select panel of judges.

With the winning Groom receiving a wonderful prize package that included a ‘32’ inch TV, Camping Backpack filled with goodies, $50.00 Gift certificates to the Track Kitchen and Derby Bar & Grill.

Among the winners was Olivia Carr who grooms Babylon Will Fall (Fourth race) for trainer Mike Anderson whose horse was named ‘Best in Appearance’.

It was while attending Simon Fraser University, Carr answered an ad in a local paper placed by trainer Rob Gilker. He was looking for a groom to work at his barn at Hastings racecourse.

“It’s long hours,” says Carr. “grooms do almost everything, from feeding, tacking them up to go to the track. You also have to recognize if they’re sound and healthy or if something is bugging them. You almost have to know a little about medical stuff in case a horse gets sick and how to fix problems so you do not have to call a veterinarian as they are expensive.”

Here are names of the other six winners on Grooms Appreciation Day.

Race  Horse    Groom        Trainer

#1 Kelson,  Vashti Holm – Glen Todd

#2 Our Bonita Rose,  Vince Quesnelle – Pat Jarvis

#3 Fireman,  Carly Guerin – Barb Heads

#4 Babylon Will Fall, Olivia Carr – Mike Anderson

#5 Mighty Mick,  Malcolm Smith – Jim Brown

#6 Bluegrass Angus,  Nicole Rycroft – Craig MacPherson

#7 He’s Got Ego,  Danny Bekesi – Pat Jarvis

The horse racing industry wishes to ‘Thank’ all of the hard-working people who make up this unheralded group.


BIG PLANS: This weekend at Hastings, three $50,000 stakes races are on tap. Saturday’s card is featuring many of the top Fillies and Mares on the grounds going a mile and sixteenth in The Monashee Stake. Sunday has two big races scheduled, the Lieutenant Governors Stakes, for three-year-olds and up and the Spaghetti Mouse Stakes for two-year-olds going six furlongs, which will mark the return of the promising youngster Summerland. The two-year-old will be coming off a dazzling track record debut victory on May, 27th. This weekend will also mark the return of the popular Wiener Dog Races. The weatherman has predicted sunshine for both days. Saturday and Sunday Post time is 1:50 p.m. 

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



There’s a good chance for many in attendance at Hastings Racecourse for the Canada Day weekend of racing,  ​they ​were treated to something very special. 
A serious Jockey Richard Hamel aboard Here’s Hannah in post parade for $50,000 Supernaturel. – Credit Joshua Mcneil

​After last years leading jockey Richard Hamel won both $50,000 stakes races, Chris Loseth (Weekend Wizard) and Supernaturel Stakes (Here’s Hannah).
​ ​An accomplishment that almost did not become reality.

On May 5th, after being away for nearly six months, due to knee surgery, Hamel returned to the saddle winning the $50,000 Jim Coleman Stakes and the next day he comes back and wins The Ross McLeod Stakes with Here’s Hannah.

For Hamel, those wins were great, but also bittersweet “At that time,”

 said Hamel, “my knees were beginning to bother me again and I was not sure if I would be able to come back. But with some hard work, I got back in shape and now feel better. Thinking about it, after a month and a half off, I just rode two-mile sixteenths races, which really makes me really pleased with myself.”

For Hamel, those wins gave him comfort, knowing that a few people perceived it was easy because of the way they had won, anyone could have ridden them. 

“It’s funny, how some people think,” adds Hamel. “the first weekend when I rode Here’s Hannah and Weekend Wizard they won easily, some people then thought anyone could have ridden them. Then when they are ridden by someone else and don’t win, like all jockeys, you feel good.”

Yes, it was an amazing afternoon.


Hastings trainer looking after Foster’s Meadow’s Bluegrass Pride – Credit Lisa Thompson

OUR LOVE FOR HORSES: If you’re involved with horses or just love them, you’ll understand my reason for writing this short story of trainer Tara Neigel, who has a stable of three horses at Hastings. 

She also still owns Steelhead, aka Finn, the first horse Neigel ever owned, therefore the love of her life. One could say they are inseparable.

Sunday, July 24, Neigel entered veteran runner Bluegrass Pride in a $4000 claiming race. When the race was over Bluegrass Pride was victorious and ordinarily, this would make a happy ending for Neigel.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work out that way. We’ll let her explain, “I had planned on selling Finn,” said Neigel, “He was so kind, loved children and getting attention from anyone and anything. I knew Finn could do far greater things far beyond what I could give him. If you looked in his direction, he would knicker at you.”

Friday, two days before Bluegrass Pride won, tragedy struck. “Finn while grazing, came to the road,” said Neigel,  made a right turn, thinking perhaps, he was going to the equestrian center where he goes to be ridden.

A lady was distracted by her child, didn’t see Finn and hit him from behind and broke both his hind legs. He dragged himself into a ditch while cars continued to drive by.”

She explained that it was then that a woman from a nearby farm stopped to help. “She jumped on his neck, says Neigel, “and stayed with him, while he was in shock. She was also hurt in the process. I called everyone for help. The veterinarian arrived and euthanized him as I kissed his white nose at the time. I do not have children, my animals are my children. I’m grieving like I have lost a child. RIP FINN, I love you.


Friends of the late Jr, Goss pay tribute to veteren Clocker, Jockeys Agent and racetrack Photographer after 4th race won by Bornatthetrack – Four Footed Fotos.

​ ​

Last Sunday, friends of longtime horse racing clocker Richard (Jr.) Goss celebrated his life with a Memorial Ceremony after the fourth race. Goss worked in the sport for over thirty years as a jockey’s agent, chart caller and winners circle photographer and truly loved our sport.  

NOTES ON A PROGRAM: Looks like an interesting jockeys race at Hasting with four jockeys within a few wins of each other, Amadeo Perez (22), Enrique Gonzalez (22), Denis Araujo (21) and Aaron Gryder (17)…Trainers race is also shaping up to be close with Phil Hall (15), Glen Todd (12) and Mark Cloutier (12) and Barb Heads (11)…Racing resumes Saturday and Sunday 1:50 pm.


Special thanks to Horsemen and Owners at Hastings Racecourse for their valuable support promoting our wonderful sport