Nick and Pauline Felicella’s join their Cypress Park in Winner’s circle – Hastings Racecourse


During their successful careers as local horse owners, Nick and Pauline Felicella have had their fair share of winners. Their runners include one of this province’s favorite horses, Spaghetti Mouse, who retired with earnings just short of $1,000,000.

Others include Lady Vye, winner of $260,781, Orchid’s Silver, which won $189.008 and the list goes on and on. Presently their stable is just shy of having won $3,000,000 from 103 winners, 90 seconds with 88 thirds from only 638 starts.

Things were going well for the pair, but deep down they felt it was time to close their popular Vancouver east-end restaurant “Nick’s Spaghetti House” and retire and on December 21, 2017 they took their restaurant keys to their home.

“I remember saying to Nick, “recalls Pauline, “We have to find something to do now. You don’t boat anymore, you don’t golf, we need something to do and when I suggested we build up our racing stable again, Nick said no, no. But with a little time, he agreed and we now have eight horses in our stable.”

One of them is 3-year-old filly Cypress Park whom they purchased for $19,000 at CTHS Mixed Sale in 2016.

“It’s funny, “says Pauline, “we’ve been going to the races for a long time and had so many nice wins and the last three years things weren’t going so well with the horses,” she concludes. Then she gives an example of how luck can change. “For example, Cypress Park injured herself while training last year and after talking with trainer, Terry (Jordan) he suggested we give her the rest of the year off.

Then Sunday, in her first race back she (Cypress Park) runs this amazing race. What also was wonderful and special is how many people came up to us to tell us happy they were for us. We truly love horse racing and the people involved in it. We’ve always enjoyed going to Hastings because people are always so friendly. What more can one say, it’s just a great place to be.”


IT’S JUSTIFY’S DAY: As with most major sporting events, Saturday’s $1,500,000 Preakness Stakes, which is the second race in the Triple crown, is one worth watching with plenty of people hooting and hollering for their favourite horse. Which for many of you, could be the unbeaten Justify. So what are Justify’s chances to win?

After his dominant two and a half-length victory in the Kentucky Derby in rainy and muddy conditions, Justify is justifiably the 1-2 heavy favorite to take the Preakness.

Veteran mare Touching Promise shown on her way to victory at Hastngs Racecourse. – Patti Tubbs ​

LIVELY BONUS RACE DAY: Monday’s Victoria Day live racing card should be a fan favourite with two major stakes races on the program. The $50,000 Vancouver Sun and $50,000 George Royal Stakes. In the Vancouver Sun, Mr. & Mrs. R. J. Bennett’s Touching Promise (5-1) returns to racing after a year away from the races. Ironically, the last race Touching Promise ran was last years Sun Handicap where she finished second to Mark DeDomenico LLC & NATHC, Dear Lilly. She came out of that race in good shape.” said trainer Barb Heads. “But injured herself in training. So they were going to breed her, but when she began training sound, they decided to let her do what she enjoys doing and that’s race. As for this race, she’s been training well for it.”

Also in this race is Yukon Belle (12-1), also trained by Heads and owned by RNH, if those initials sound familiar, they stand for Edmonton Oiler NHL player Ryan-Nugent Hopkins who is now in Europe playing for Canada in the World Hockey Championship. 

Early Favourite for The Vancouver Sun Stakes is owner Peter Redekop’s  “Alliford Bay” (6-5) recent winner of the $50,000 Brighouse Belles on April 22.

In the co-feature, $50,000 George Royal, Tim Bankers, Blue Law (5-2) coming off an upset in recent $50,000 Swift Thoroughbreds Stakes goes for his third win of the year. Consistent runner Modern (3-1) will be trying to avenge his recent defeat against Blue Law.

NOTES ON A PROGRAM! Recent visitor in the Hastings Jockeys room was apprentice jockey Jose Ascencio riding the stationary exercise horse, he hopes to be back riding in two weeks…The Preakness Stakes can be viewed on Saturday at Hastings Racecourse on all the television monitors with Post Time at 3:38, plus there are seven live races scheduled beginning at 1:50, which should make for an exciting afternoon under bright sunny skies. Live racing resumes on Victoria Day Monday. No Racing Sunday.


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




Vancouver Island native trainer Dave Cross who won the 1983 Kentucky Derby


JUSTIFY  Langley native John Gunther breeder of favourite Justify favored in the Kentucky Derby. Photo: Coady Photography @ Churchill Downs

 Saturday marks the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs and one of the most popular afternoons of horse racing at Hastings Racecourse.
The Kentucky Derby has for years been referred to as the  ‘Run for the Rose.’ The race can be viewed on television monitors throughoutHastings Racecourse. The post time for this race is scheduled for 3:50 p.m. and live racing post time is 1:50 sharp.
Because it is a race restricted to only three-years-olds foaled in 2015, a year when a hefty 25,000-30,000 foals were born, one can see why more often than not, chances of an owner or breeder having a horse racing in the Kentucky Derby could be called almost slim to none.
However, despite those huge odds, there have been a few local Canadians defying the odds.
Alberta-born, John  D. Gunther who calls Langley, B .C. home is considered among the top horse breeders in the sport. He also owns a 350 Acre farm in Versailles, Kentucky under the name of Glenwood Farms.
Gunther is also a person who really loves to racehorses. In the 1970’s along with his B.C. trainer Lance Giesbrecht,  they operated a successful stable at Exhibition Park.
Gunther later moved his operations to Kentucky where he found success with Kimberlite Pipe, who went on to win the 1999 LouisianaDerby, then finishing sixth in that years Kentucky Derby.
This year, Gunther has a pair of runners worth checking out, which were both bred at his Kentucky farm.
Among them is Justify, trained by Bob Baffert, which is unbeaten after three starts and favored at 3-1. Justify starts from post position seven. While the other horse he bred is Vino Rosso, trained by Todd Pletcher and is listed at odds of  21-1. Vino Rosso has drawn post position 18.

Then there is Debbie and Barry Holmes, breeders who operate Phoenix Rising Farms in the Interior of BC. Among horses, they’ve bred is Flameaway whom they later sold privately. Flameaway is 30- 1 and starts from post 4. Despite his long odds, Flameaway  has accumulated $704,834 from five victories.

Connections for Omega Victory include Chloe L’Herault (helper), trainer Julie Wick, jockey Learie Seecharan celebrating Omega Victory wins on Sunday – Photo Patti Tubbs

Last Sunday, there were lots of smiles and congratulations being seen in the local backstretch (stable area) at Hastings Racecourse.
The reason, owner/trainer Julie Wick’s and apprentice jockey Learie Seecharan had teamed up and won the fourth race in 1:16.61, which turned out to be the fastest 6 furlongs of the day.
For Wicks, who is one of the hardest working and caring persons in the business, the victory was enjoyed by everyone.
As far as Seacharan, whose brother Lenny is an identical twin, this was an especially gratifying win.
Wicks admits she has a special way of telling them apart. “They each get on my horses in the morning,” said Wicks. “And to avoid any confusion between them, I’ll ask them both to wear different hat covers on their helmets and it appears to work.”
Also worth noting, when it comes to helping trainers to not be confused, “When I am introduced to trainers.” says Learie “ First, I’ll tell them my name is Learie and Lenny’s my brother, everyone will chuckle and that way they’ll remember our names and faces.’

Aaron Gryder

NOTES ON A PROGRAM: Jockey Aaron Gryder has a busy few days, Friday, scheduled to ride the Blaine D. Wright trained, Riser (20-1) in the $200,000 Twin Spire Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs in Kentucky. If you cannot recall Riser, he ran third in last years $150,000 B.C. Derby. Gryder then boards a plane and flies back Saturday to Hastings to ride,  He’s the Reason in the featured $50,000 Jim Coleman Province Stakes.…Sunday’s major race is the $50,000 Ross McLeod Stakes that includes unbeaten in three starts, John Morrison trained, Here’s Hannah, who won all her races rather convincingly with  Richard Hamel in the irons.…Local jockey Sahin Civaci rode a winner last weekend aboard Power Corrupt at Turf Paradise in Arizona…Remember it’s a very big weekend of horse racing at Hastings. Parade to post starts at 1:50 p.m



With the first weekend of horse racing at Hastings Racecourse for 2018 now in the books, one could not help but notice how much diversification there was within the jockey colony.

Jockeys Jose and father Gabriel Asencio – Patti Tubbs

Fifteen of the eighteen jockeys who rode on opening weekend were born outside of Canada and the United States.  Canadian-born  jockeys Jeff Burningham  and Scott Williams each had 1 win. Mexican – born riders, David Lopez had 2 wins and 2 thirds, while Amadeo Perez had four wins with 1 second place finish. Uruguay – born rider, Denis Araujo had 1 win 1 second and 1 third. California-born, Arron Gryder is the leading rider after the first weekend of racing with four wins,  2 seconds and 2 third place finishes

Ever wonder what jockeys do between races on a sunny day at Hastings. They chill like jockeys Rico Walcott, Silvano Morales and Jason Rodrigues are doing

WHOSE ON FIRST: That’s what owners and trainers must be thinking after seeing jockeys Learie and Lennie Seecharan  in the Paddock. They are 22 year-old identical twins who both began their careers in their homeland of Trinidad.

“I was here last year and did well enough to think about coming back. Loved it so much I talked my brother Learie into coming back with me, ” Lennie stated.

GET WELL WISHES: Go out to popular apprentice jockey Jose Asencio who was eagerly awaiting his return to riding on opening day at Hastings.

Last year, he appeared to be on his way to cracking the top jockey standings at Hastings.

But two months into the meeting he was injured during a racing accident that forced him to miss the balance of the season.

After doing months of rehabilitation at home in Mexico, he couldn’t wait to be back riding.

Then the unthinkable occurred again. ” While exercising a horse in the morning, then while walking back to the barn, a horse jogging by us, struck at me with his back leg, hit me and broke my leg again.”Asencio said.

For Asencio, this accident hurts even more. “I had really worked hard to get back riding and deep down I know I’ll be back better than ever. It’s the waiting that really hurts,” he confessed.

ROAD TO KENTUCKY! Looking for a runner in this years Kentucky Derby to cheer on? Then look no further than local breeders Deborah and Barry Holmes’s Flameaway, who races under Phoenix Rising Farms.

The owners presently have mares in Ontario, Kentucky and in B.C. at Jack and Pat Bennett’s Rising End Farms.

The breeders later sold Flameaway to owner John C. Oxley. Flameaway  goes into the Derby with a second place finish to Good Magic, in The Toyota Blue Grass G2, a major race for the Run For the Roses.

Blue Law Wins The Swift Thoroughbreds Inaugral on 04/22/18 with rider Amadeo Perez


NOTES ON A PROGRAM: Nice victory by popular trainer Cindy Krasner who saddled Blue Law to take the $50,000 Swift Thoroughbred Inaugural Stakes…Popular jockey Richard Hamel who has won the riding title at Hastings five times will make his return to the saddle next weekend. Hamel’s been recovering from surgery sustained during his long and successful riding career. “I’ve been exercising a lot of horses,” said Hamel, “and feeling fit and ready to get back to riding again.”…    Don’t forget the Run for the Roses, the 114 Kentucky Derby May 5 shown at Hastings… Racing resumes Sunday 1:15 p.m. with Saturday racing postponed.



Sporting fans can expect many finishes like these in 2018 at Hastings

According to The Daily News Advertiser published in the 1800s, horse racing in Vancouver has been capturing the imagination of Vancouverites and visitors since 1889.

Making this weekends opening at Hastings Racecourse the 129th year horse racing has been held in our city. Post time for both Saturdayand Sunday is 1:50 p.m. so arrive early.

Just as it has done since the beginning, horse racing remains a sport that keeps on doing what it does best; providing plenty of thrills and entertainment for everyone.

This season all of the top trainers, jockeys, and horses are back better than ever and ready to roll.

No one is more appreciative than those who are constantly putting the show on, which includes all the trainers, owners, breeders, and horsemen. There are also backstretch workers who spend hour after hour, day after day toiling in the stable area caring for their horses.

Then there’s a group of people whom hardly anyone sees or even pay attention to. They are constantly making sure all the riders and horses are safe and trouble-free. This is the starting gate crew.

RACE TIME: Yes there’s a lot that goes on into putting on a fine show. One we can all enjoy. “I’m really excited,” said Racing Secretary, Nichelle Milner. “For the quality of horses who will be racing this season at Hastings is exciting. I’m especially proud of the trainers here who really do care for the safety and conditioning of their horses.”

BONUS TIME:: It’s no secret that with the downpour of rain, it has been a tough spring to be training horses.

This often means races with small fields which can only be blamed on the weather.

It was this situation that all parties involved in the sport came up with several incentives to help trainers enter their horses. Among them was this very creative one that has every horse who starts during the first two weeks for a claiming price of $20,000 or less, receives $500  over and above any other incentives.

EQUINE UPDATE: Here’s a look at a few changes from last years BC Awards Equine Champions.

One notable name not scheduled to race this season at Hastings Racecourse is the popular 2017 Horse of the Year,  Daz Lin Dawn, owned by JDP Holdings Ltd., Delton Stables, and Nancy Betts. The Horse of The Year was sent a few months ago to race in Northern California.

“I was hoping to keep her (Daz Lin Dawn) here at Hastings,” said Betts. “But after being outvoted by my partners I sold my share of her, that’s why she was shipped to California.

Will I miss her? Of course, how can you not miss a filly like her?

Aside from being my favourite horse, she was probably one of the best fillies to race here,” concluded Betts.

For the record, Daz Lin Dawn started 11 times, winning nine races with one second, earning $218,064.

Another name worth noting also will have a new home this year is Champion Older Mare and Top Upper Claiming Performer, Notis the Jewell, bred by the late Len Fielding.

After several unplaced starts as a three-year-old, in 2017 she was leased to trainer Bill McLaren and winning in her first start for him. Notis the Jewell followed by four more wins including the Grade 3 Ballerina Stakes.

Notis the Jewell under McLaren’s training started 8 times winning five races, earning $110,537.

This year Notis the Jewell will be trained by Larry Fielding.

2017  Champion Two-Year-Old  Filly, Here’s Hannah is back training in fine form. “She’s been doing everything right in the mornings and if all goes well luck wise, we could have another banner year,” stated her Trainer, John Morrison.

Modern wins the Pacific Customs Brokers Classic on 08/07/17 with rider Richard Hamel

Another name worth noting is Modern, crowned last years Champion Older Male, which is owned by Long-time horse racing supporters, Swift Thoroughbreds Inc. His trainer  Dino Condilenios, has entered him to run in Sunday’s $50,000 Swift Thoroughbreds Inaugural Stakes where he faces a full field of veteran older horses.

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


It’s time to move on 

Closing day at Hastings Racecourse usually means that it’s time to pack up and head south for the next four or five months for many of the workers involved in the industry.  

For many, including trainers, grooms and jockeys, it means saying goodbye to people you’ve known or worked with for years.  The stable gates opened in early February to begin training for the upcoming season and there is a feeling of togetherness for the ensuing nine months.  

While many local trainers will stable their horses on nearby farms, several others will be taking their horses to run at racetracks in the U.S.  They include this season’s leading trainer Phil Hall along with Steve Henson and Cindy Krasner who set up shop at Turf Paradise in Phoenix.

Veteran trainer Cindy Krasner talks about winter racing south of the border – Credit Patti Tubbs


“This will be my fifth year going to Arizona,” said Krasner.  “As a rule, most of the horses Canadians take to Turf Paradise do well.  It’s also a good place to pick up horses for purchase since some may fit into the Hastings program.  Also, the cost of living is cheaper than here.  Although the purses are not as good when compared to Hastings, it beats sitting home without any money coming in.”  

JOCKS ON THE MOVE:  Because of the 52-day racing schedule at Hastings that is conducted just two days a week, jockeys such as Antonio Reyes, Amadeo Perez and Ruben Lara return home to Mexico City to spend some time with their families and riding at nearby Hipodromo de las Americas.  Romario Saunders will visit family in Jamaica and plans to ride at Santa Rose Racetrack in his hometown.

Apprentice jockey Lenny Seecharan returns home to Trinidad and plans to ride at one of the several tracks in the area.

And while on the subject of jockeys, Enrique Gonzalez, who broke his ankle recently in a freak accident, is not expected to get on a horse for at least three months. He has returned to his family in Mexico City.  

Also on the injured list and still recovering from a June riding accident is Jose Acensio.  He heads back to Mexico City next week. 


An excited Sahin Civaci is shown celebrating his victory at Hastings Racecourse

BEST COMEBACK:  Last fall jockey Sahin Civaci had some success at Hastings in his dream job.  He later gave it up, though, to work in construction and it wasn’t long before he learned to manage his time and returned to Hastings to exercise horses on weekend. This spring, after receiving a call from his former agent Chad Hoverson, he went back to riding while keeping his day job.  “Things have been going great,” Civaci says.  “I’ve had some success during the past month and thanks to Chad, my career has been great, better than I expected.” 

Since his return, Civaci has won 19 races and is seventh in the jockey standings heading into this final weekend at Hastings. As for his best memory, he says:  “It would probably be winning the $50,000 Winston Churchill on Hunter’s Appeal for trainer Jim Brown.  Also finishing second in the SW Randall Plate with Crazy Prophet for trainer John Snow.  This whole year has been a highlight for me.”  

WORTH NOTING: Among highlights this season has been the success of JDP Holdings, Delton Stables and Nancy Betts with Daz Lin Dawn, also trained by Betts.  Daz Lin Dawn, and this season went undefeated in seven starts with lifetime earnings hitting $218,064 mark.  

Her winning streak is the second longest modern-day win streak of nine in a row, held by UMA Racing’s Warner Pass trained by legendary Alan Jack during the 1997-98 season.  

CLOSING DAY:  The final weekend of racing at Hastings features eight-race cards on both Saturday and Sunday with start times of 1:50 p.m.   On Sunday there are four BC Cup stakes each worth $50,000:  the Nursery, Distaff, Debutante and Classic.   

FINAL THOUGHTS:  Wishing all of you a safe, healthy and prosperous winter.


Champions at the BC Thoroughbreds Awards Dinner on Nov. 30.

These two horses have veteran trainers who never lose faith in their racehorses.

Veteran Hastings trainer Cindy Krasner shown with Awesome Slate, it was her second BC Premiers victory. – Patti Tubbs

One of the most knowledgeable trainers at Hastings is Cindy Krasner who has had many winners during her career that includes Arctic Son (1998 BC Premiers) and Krazy Koffee (2009 BC Derby).

Krasner won her second BC Premiers with Awesome Slate for owner Jake Kalpakian who had horses before and just recently got back into the business.

Krasner told Jake she would try to get him a good horse and a month later noticed Awesome Slate, spotted by a friend in Florida. 

“I knew there would be other trainers interested in him after he ran for $12,500 at Hastings,” said Krasner.  “For that price, I was going to put in a claim for him and since there were three other trainers interested, we drew numbers.  He won the race and Greg Tracy won the draw.

“I called Jake and he was encouraging, telling me to keep looking.”

Off that claiming win, his connections moved Awesome Slate up in value for his next start.  “I called Jake and told him the horse was now running for $16,000 and even with the rise in price he’d be worth trying for him again. This time two other trainers were also trying to claim him and we got lucky, winning the draw.”

Off his $16,000 win, Krasner decided to run him back on Championship Day at Hastings for a $25,000 claiming price and he won again.

Fearing she might lose the horse, Krasner opted to go the distance and run him in the Premiers. “He ran his heart out and won the Premiers, it was unbelievable,” she said. “He’ll be going to Turf Paradise in Arizona but he’ll be back in the spring.”

Owner/Lessee Bill McLaren’s Cinderella runner Notis the Jewell is shown capturing Sunday’s $100,000 Ballerina Stakes – Four Footed Fotos

RESPECT:  Then there’s Bill McLaren, a former cab driver who happens to be a pretty good horse trainer.  During his career, McLaren saddled top horses AJ Jett and Billy Blue and he’s now in charge of Notis the Jewell, the mare he leased earlier this year from the Fielding family.

Notis the Jewell began this season racing in maiden (non-winners) races for a claiming price of $14,000.  Then in August, she captured the $50,000 Distaff Handicap at odds of 11-1, followed by a win in the $50,000 Delta Colleen at 7-1 odds.  Then to prove it wasn’t a fluke, Notis the Jewell won this year’s Ballerina again at 7-1.

“It’s amazing,” says McLaren, “she’s won five races in 10 starts and still gets no respect from the bettors.”

Notis the Jewell has won $108,500 this season and McLaren says her next race will be on the final day of the 2017 meeting in the $50,000 BC Cup Distaff.

This time, she may not be overlooked by the wagering public.

NOTES ON A PROGRAM:  Popular jockey David Lopez is geared to finish fourth in the 2017 Jockey Standings and has shipped his riding tack to Turf Paradise.  “I’m looking forward to seeing my family and, yes, I will be returning to Hastings next year,” he says … The 2017 Annual General Meeting of The Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association of B.Ç. (HBPA) will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 17 in the Horsemen’s Grill (Trackers) at Hastings Racecourse, commencing at 6:00 p.m. 

Racing resumes Saturday with a nine-race card beginning at 1:50 p.m. Sunday’s card has been canceled due to a shortage of entries.

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



Like all athletes, a horse retiring from racing doesn’t mean an end to the excitement and action of the sport.

This can be been seen every race day at Hastings Racecourse when horses are being led by a pony person for the parade to the post. The reason behind this is to settle nervous horses down as they approach the starting gate.

Strange as it might be, some of the active horses might have competed in the past against those same horses being guided by the pony person.

Today at Hastings there are roughly 10 retired horses who had racing careers, some with mediocre careers and others with outstanding past records.

Vinnie’s Lad originally sold initially for $140,000 as a youngster and eventually was given to Athina Weiss who developed him into a fine stable pony at Hastings.

Athina Weiss works at Hastings as a pony person and owns Vinnie’s Lad, a former thoroughbred cost his original owners $140,000. And as a yearling running at Woodbine won three races and $61,500 in earnings. 

“My husband was grooming for Roger Attfield back east and Vinnie’s Lad was one of the horses he was looking after,” Athina said. “We both fell in love with Vinnie and asked that if they were ever interested in giving him away when his career was over to keep us in mind.  A few years later they offered him to us.

“He’s the perfect horse to be a pony, really fast and always ready to run.  Vinnie also works the odd shift as an outrider pony.”

After retiring from her brief racing career, A Touch of Sass went to become an ‘Outrider’s pony for her owner Cindy Barroby

And when it comes to having a top pony for their full-time outrider, Cindy and Darcy Barroby are always on the lookout for that equine star.

“When I got A Touch of Sass from Frank (Barroby) I was looking for a horse that kids could ride and Frank was trying to find a home for her,” said Cindy.  “She was tough and I decided to try her as a pony.  She adapted to it quickly which was no easy chore because it takes more time to train a horse to become an outriders horse than a pony.”

Cindy says the most difficult part is teaching them to slow down and not run so fast and getting them to be comfortable alongside a racehorse.  “If they do not pass that test then they’re not going to make it,” she says.

ON THE MEND:  Hoping for a quick recovery is jockey Enrique Gonzalez who was thrown from his mount Harry’s Hammer at the start of the sixth race Sunday. The popular Mexican rider suffered two broken bones above his left ankle.  Doctors at VGH inserted a plate and screws to each side of the ankle.

NOTES ON A PROGRAM:  The Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA) is presenting its informative program ‘Overview of the Equine Drug Control Program’ on Thursday, Oct. 12 at the Hastings Racing Office at 11 a.m.

Racing resumes this weekend with two $100,000 stakes for juvenile runners:  the Fantasy for fillies on Saturday and the $100,000 Ascotfor two-year-old colts and geldings on Sunday.  Start time both afternoons is 1:50 p.m. 

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



Veteran trainer Mark Cloutier currently in second place in the trainer’s standings is having his best season shown at Hastings Racecourse, shown in the paddock with one of his horses. – Credit Michael Bye

To say this season has been a breakout year for trainer Mark Cloutier at Hastings Racecourse would be an understatement. The reason for Cloutier’s success comes from having owners who either breed or purchase younger horses at yearling sales.

A system rather unique when you consider nearly every top stable in racing is made up of horses claimed (purchased) from other owners or trainers.  One could call it horse trading.

The goal of Cloutier’s owners is finishing a race season with the same amount of horses they began with, something almost impossible.

And while his name hasn’t been on the lips of many horse players, by no means is he what they call in the sport ‘Johnny Come Lately’, having been involved in the sport for three decades

“I even raced at Sandown Park as a youngster,” said Cloutier. “We’re no different than most of the people working here going seven days a week devoting their lives to horses.  We also fall into that category.”

As how he runs his stable:  “Our stable is really a hands-on operation.  Working with me is my wife Toni, who has trained horses, as well as Edgar Mendoza, my assistant trainer and right-hand man for years.  And because we all grew up around horses, we understand them quite well.”

When asked about the success he’s having this year:  “This season we have had several young horses that could run and because a lot of races this season had what is called conditions, which are very important, our horses were able to fit into those races.”

Bill Konyk Jr.’s Don’t Tell My Husband with Antonio Reyes riding, shown winning the Opening HBPA Claiming Stake on Saturday – Michael Bye

BUSY WEEKEND:  Results from last weekend’s inaugural Claiming Stakes races at Hastings had owners busy buying and selling horses.  Several went to new stables on Saturday for $4,000 including Tinderette, Merlot and Silent Eagle.  On Sunday four horses – Crushin Candy, Mighty Mesa, Off the Grid and Toccet’s Charm – found new owners.Those claims ​(purchases) showed the interest is still strong for horses that may not be seen as the upper echelon of the sport, but, remain popular within the industry.

EARTHQUAKE:  Our prayers go out to all the workers of Mexican heritage working behind the scenes in the backstretch at Hastings Racecourse who have relatives in Mexico City that was by the serious earthquake. When asked how their families are doing jockey Amadeo Perez said: “Both Enrique’s (Gonzalez) and my family have been evacuated.  We recently talked with them and they’re all fine.  Let me say thank you to all of the people who’ve been asking.”

NOTES ON A PROGRAM: Live racing Saturday and Sunday goes at the regular start times of 1:50 p.m. with eight-race cards both days.

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



Emerald Downs invader Riser winner of the $75,000 Emerald Downs Derby shown doing his morning exercise at Hastings

The 72nd running of the $150,000 BC Derby Saturday afternoon at Hastings Racecourse gives fans the opportunity to watch many of the top three-year-olds from the Pacific Northwest compete in the richest race of the thoroughbred season.  There are five support stake races on the nine-race card including the $100,000 BC Oaks, the $100,000 Jack and Sadie Diamond Futurities as well the $50,000 SW Randall Plate and $50,000 Delta Colleen.

That’s $550,000 in purse money during an afternoon when fascinators and fedoras are the fashion of the day as a young demographic of racing fans create a Kentucky Derby atmosphere.

To make an event like Derby/Oaks Day a success, lots of planning begins months in advance with staff members from the Racing Office contacting horsemen at tracks from other racing jurisdictions about shipping some of their best horses to Hastings for the huge prize money being offered.

Their strategy works.  This year’s BC Derby has attracted one of the best fields in recent memory with a full field of 10 horses.  The list includes the top three finishers from the August 19 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park in Edmonton when Chief Know It All won in a photo finish with Trooper John and Double Bear in a dead-heat for second.

Another big stakes winner in Saturday’s race will be Riser, trained by Blaine Wright, who won the $75,000 Emerald Downs Derby earlier this year.

Riser will have veteran jockey Aaron Gryder aboard on Saturday. He’s no stranger to Hastings fans after being Glen Todd’s go-to jockey during the 2013 season.   

“I had ridden for Mr. Wright at Golden Gate,” said Gryder by phone in California earlier this week.  “He called me and told me about Riser and asked if I’d be interested in riding him for the BC Derby.  After looking at videos of the horse I liked what I saw and think we have a good chance of winning.”

Should Riser win, he takes home an additional $25,000 bonus for winning both the Emerald Downs and BC Derby races.

Unbeaten in six starts this season, fan favourite Daz Lin Dawn faces stiffer competition in the $100,000 B.C. Oaks Saturday at Hastings – photo – Michael Bye

Among other key match-ups on Saturday includes the BC Oaks when Daz Lin Dawn, winner of six consecutive stakes this year and is considered the reigning Queen of Hastings, faces Little Dancer, winner of the Washington Oaks this year. 

If she wins Saturday she will also receive a $25,000 bonus for sweeping the Washington and B.C. Oaks.

Also, watch for trainer Phil Hall’s Anstrum who won the $82,000 Sonoma Handicap at Norhtlands on Aug. 19.

Among promising two-year-old fillies in the Sadie Diamond Futurity are Brechin’s Command, winner of the CTHS Sales Stakes, Raider who won the Sales Stakes at Northlands and Here’s Hannah with an impressive victory in her debut.

Factor in top contenders running in the Jack Diamond Futurity, SW Randall Plate and Delta Colleen and it doesn’t get any better than BC Derby/Oaks Day at Hastings on Saturday.

Start time is 1:50 p.m.

FUN BUT SERIOUS: If you have never been to a yearling horse sale, keep in mind they can be both fun and also profitable. This year’s CTHS B.C. Sale begins Monday, September 11 with the annual Yearling parade at 3 p.m. followed by the Yearling and Mixed Sale on Tuesday, at 3 p.m.  both at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley.

With 100 horses listed in their catalogue, the CTHS Yearling and Mixed Sales always makes for an interesting afternoon. And while there visit the Thoroughbred Ladies Club and Jockeys Silent Auction booth, two

great groups who are always supporting those in need. The event will be streamlined live at

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


Trainer John Morrison shown with B.C. Stables and Paul Caravetta promising youngster Here’s Hannah walking off racetrack with regular exercise person Angie Smith in the saddle. Here’s Hannah’s next start, possibly in the $100,000 Sadie Diamond Futurity run September 9 – Michael Bye

There’s a good chance the name of trainer John Morrison wouldn’t ring a bell with many of the newer generation of fans attending racing at Hastings Racecourse this year.

There is a simple explanation:  John, his wife Kim and son Jessie have been maintaining a small stable for many years.  Small but also very successful. 

Still running the operation after six decades, Morrison has a pair of BC Derby victories to his credit (Fleet Reserve, 1989; Humpty’s  Hoedown, 1993), three Jack Diamond Futurity wins and other major stake victories on his resume.

When asked about racing a small stable, he says:  “That is something done by choice.  Not having too many horses seems to work better for me.  I really enjoy grooming my own horses and being around them every day also helps keep things in control.”

Always on the lookout for a top horse, this year Morrison may have another top prospect with Here’s Hannah, owned by B.C. Stables and Paul Caravetta.

“She arrived here in the spring,” said Morrison.  “Obviously we missed the first few weeks because of the weather but has since been training with some nice workouts.  At first, she was a little temperamental going to the starting gate.  But thanks to Charlie MacDonald (head starter) and his gate crew, Here’s Hannah has come around to where she’s got the hang of it.”

Morrison says she is “big and strong and has a nice way of going”.

In her first start Here’s Hannah broke on top and stayed there to easily win from the number one post position. “She probably will make her next start in the $100,000 Sadie Diamond Futurity (Sept. 9),” Morrison says.  “We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed that everything goes well.”

Unbeaten this year, Daz Lin Dawn is shown winning the Emerald Downs Stakes at Hastings Racecourse. Daz Lin Dawn IS trained by Nancy Betts and ridden by Richard Hamel. Her next start the $100,000 BC Oaks on Sept 9 – credit – Michael Bye

RACING’S BIGGEST DAY:  Rapidly approaching is Derby/Oaks Day at Hastings on Saturday, Sept. 9 with $550,000 in purse money available. Nominations have closed for the six major stakes on the Sept. 9 card and you can expect to see horses arriving from Edmonton’s Northlands Park as well as Emerald Downs in Seattle. … The $100,000 BC Oaks will have an all-star field that will include Daz Lin Dawn, winner of all of her races this season at Hastings, and Little Dancer, winner of the Washington Oaks at Emerald Downs.  Besides the Derby, Oaks and Jack Diamond Futurity, the other major races include the Sadie Diamond Futurity,  S.W. Randall Plate and the Delta Colleen.

MAKE NOTE:  Friday Night Live racing goes at 7 p.m. and with the PNE Fair winding down, Hastings Racecourse will be staging a special ‘Throwback Race Night’ on Wednesday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. with 1980’s and 90’s prices for soft drinks, hot dogs, burgers and the buffet in Silks for just $19.80.   

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