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.
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.
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.