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!




 Pictures, For over six decades have had successful careers at Hasting Racecourse, Pictured (L-R) John (son), Daryl (brother), Mel (brother) and Wayne (eldest Brother) – Michael Bye


When your family has four members currently involved in horse racing, it’s a safe bet to say the sport is in their bloodlines.  Case in point:  for over six decades the name Snow has been consistently dominant at either Exhibition Park or Hastings Racecourse.

Presently the family is represented by the patriarch Mel, his son John and brothers Wayne and Daryl.  Mel and John are successful trainers while Wayne and Daryl left the training profession to become jockey agents.

And let us not forget late sister Betty, who trained from 1966 thru 2001.

“I guess our love for horse racing began when our father took me to the races almost as soon as I could walk,” says Mel.  “The rest of the clan eventually followed.  It was the natural thing to do.”

The elder Snow’s stables have consisted of top runners, among them Timely Stitch, Seminole Brave, Star of Summer and countless others that have earned over $7.6 million in combined purse money.

Proving he’s a chip off the old block, John’s earnings top $4.2 million including 2003 BC Derby winner, Roscoe Pito.  Uncle Daryl had won the 2002 Derby with Cruising Kat and finished his training career in 2007 with over $3.3 million in earnings.

Wayne trained horses briefly but soon moved into the business of being a jockey agent and today is recognized as one of the best in Canada.  His claim to fame has been working for many top Spanish riders who migrated from Mexico.

“We all do it because of our love for the animal,” Mel says.  “It’s a lifestyle that is more than a job to us.  We are all competitive people who enjoy winning and if one of the family has a good day, we’re all happy.”

For the Snow family, every day being around horses is a good one. 

Swift Thoroughbreds Inc., European proving the most photogenic winning the $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes Races. European is trained by Dino Condilenios and was ridden by Richard Hamel – Four Footed Fotos 

FUTURE STARS:  It’s that time of year in horse racing when some owners and breeders unveil their stars of the future in hopes of capturing titles at year’s end.

Last Friday the younger prospects purchased in B.C were showcased with two $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes.  In the 2-year old race for Canadian-bred colts and geldings Swift Thoroughbreds Inc. European proving to be the most photogenic in a tight finish.  In the earlier run, CTHS Sales Stakes for the 2-year-old fillies was won by Brechin’s Command.

This Friday local sophomore horses purchased in a CTHS (BC Division) get a chance to take home a trophy with the $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes for 3 & 4-year-old fillies facing the almost invincible Daz Lin Dawn, winner of five starts this year.  Daz Lin Dawn is owned by JDP Holdings, Nancy Betts and Delton Stables.  They purchased her for $15,000 in the 2015 Mixed CTHS Sale.

In the co-feature, it’s the $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes for 3 & 4-year-old colts and geldings.  Start time Friday is 7 p.m.  There is no racing this weekend because of the PNE Fair but racing resumes Monday at 5 p.m. when the Fair is dark and parking is free for racing patrons.

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




August 18, 2017



 Jockeys and  Assistant starters get ready to send their horses away on a safe clean start. – Alan De La Plante  Photo

Next time you’re visiting Hastings Racecourse, here’s a tip:  Take a walk to a place seldom seen and worthy of the effort.

It is located at the top of the home stretch where most of the action and excitement at track level usually begins.  This is where you will see the huge starting gate often referred to by jockeys as the Green Monster because of its intimidating size.

For the record, the first electrical starting gate was invented by Clay Puett on July 1, 1939, and made its debut at Exhibition Park in Vancouver.

Puett’s invention proved to be such a big success it was later used at nearly every racetrack in North America, forever changing the look of horse racing.

And while present technology has brought the starting gate into the future, it still hasn’t taken away all the dangers that go with it but has changed how it is presently being used.

Here are a few things of interest that you may find surprising about the starting gate: 

. When head starter Charlie MacDonald is ready to send the horses on their way the start button he holds in one hand is a small device connected to three fully charged batteries that can open every stall door.

. The front door of each stall is held closed by an electromagnetic lock designed to open in an emergency should a horse prematurely attempt to run through either the front or back doors in order to reduce or prevent injury to a horse or rider.

.  In case there is a problem with the gates opening, which rarely happens, there is a backup system in place that allows the starter to open the stall doors manually but without the noise of the bell.

“When I’m holding the device in my hands it is fully charged,” says MacDonald.  “I hit the button to release the horses, the electricity shuts off and that’s what opens the gates.  This is also when the bell rings alerting the horses to break.”

To give every horse an even chance at the start, horses are not loaded in numerical order.

“The system we use,” MacDonald says, “is to load horses numbered 1 and 5 at the same time, then horses 2 and 6 and so on. This prevents any horses from standing in the starting gate too long.”

To familiarize horses with the starting gate, trainers often take their younger horses to the gate for early morning schooling often many times before making their racing debut. It is at this time when they are taught by seasoned individuals the ins and outs of becoming race horses.

To put it another way, this is a horse’s grade school and every horse has to spend time there.  Some become good students, while some do not.

Friday night racing returns to Hastings Racecourse at 7 p.m

WEEKEND CHANGES:  As is always the case with the arrival of the Fair at the PNE there are scheduling changes at Hastings Racecourse.  Friday Night Live racing remains the same with post time at 7 p.m. but during the PNE there is no racing on Saturday or Sunday during the month of August.  Twilight racing returns Monday at  5 p.m. on August 21 and 28 when the PNE is dark so racing patrons can take advantage of free parking.Seven races make up Friday’s card under the lights while Monday’s early evening program has eight races including two $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes for Juvenile Canadian-bred fillies and colts. 

Special thanks to all Horsemen and Owners at Hastings Racecourse for promoting


For the huge crowd at Monday’s BC Festival of Racing at Hastings Racecourse, there was something for everyone. Horsemen, as well as management, are to be congratulated for their hard work putting together a competitive 10-race card that kept patrons excited and entertained during an afternoon that resulted in an all-sources mutual handle of $1.138 million.

Owner/trainer Bill McLaren shown with Notis the Jewell winner of the $50,000 Pacific Customs Brokers Distaff, shown in the stable area at Hastings Racecourse.

Among the surprise stories was owner/trainer Bill McLaren and his Notis the Jewell winning the $50,000 Pacific Customs Brokers Distaff.

“This was a remarkably great win in more ways than one,” said McLaren.  “Last spring I leased Notis the Jewell from the family of the late Len Fielding who bred her.  Two races prior to her win Len was honoured with a memorial race and his whole family was in the winner’s circle for a photo with Notis the Jewell.  How wonderful was that?”

But Bill’s story isn’t over.  For decades he was doing double duty as a cab driver while training his small stable.

“It was tough at times,” said McLaren, “and only made possible because of my wife Charlene.  She always looked after our horses whenever I was driving the taxi.  We had our business down to a science.

“Then when Charlene was diagnosed with cancer I decided to stay home with her, putting our horses on hold.  After she passed away, I began resuming my work at the track and presently have a three-horse stable.”

Jockey Sahin Civaci returns to the winner’s circle with Mohamad Khan’s Hunters Appeal after winning the $50,000 Sir Winston Churchill Derby Trial. Photo – Michael Bye

ONE NEVER KNOWS: Four days before the $50,000 Sir Winston Churchill Derby Trial jockey Jeff Burningham was injured during a race and forced to miss riding on the holiday Monday card.

Among his scheduled mounts was Hunters Appeal, a 38-1 longshot trained by Jim Brown and owned by Mohamad Khan.

In need of a last-minute jockey substitute, Brown contacted agent Chad Hoverson, who had pitched him on his rider Sahin (Sean) Civaci, one of the few jockeys who can make the 110-pound weight.  He also holds a full-time construction job.

“I don’t even watch my weight anymore,” says Civaci.  “At my regular job, I’m always climbing scaffolds and lifting lots of heavy weights in hot weather. That alone keeps me pretty fit and helps keep my weight down.  It’s actually a great feeling.”

As for his thoughts on that winning ride in the Sir Winston Churchill:  “If anything it has helped me build my morale and confidence.  I’m hoping it brings me more stakes races and better horses to ride.”

GENEROSITY:  It was a classy move made by owner Glen Todd after the opening $25,000 Allowance three-horse race in which Todd owned all three horses. Todd was caught in a precarious position but as he said:  “It was something I didn’t ask for or want.  So I decided to donate all the purse money to New Stride Thoroughbred Adoption Society and the CTHS marketing fund. “

“I know the CTHS marketing fund could use the money and I’ve always been a big supporter of New Stride.  Somebody has to look after those retired race horses.”

The three jockeys who rode for Todd in the non-wagering event – David Lopez, Richard Hamel and Mario Gutierrez – donated their earnings to the BC Disabled Riding Fund.

NOTES ON A PROGRAM:  Swift Thoroughbreds popular Snuggles was favoured in the $50,000 Pacific Customs Brokers Distaff but was scratched after rearing up approaching the starting gate.  “Snuggles came back to the barn in okay shape,” reports trainer Dino Condilenios … JDP Holdings, Nancy Betts and Delton Stables had their impressive Daz Lin Dawn easily win the $50,000 Hong Kong Jockey Club.  “She came back to the barn ready to run again,” said Betts.

Racing resumes with a seven-race Friday Night Live card at 7 p.m. and an eight-race card Sunday afternoon at 1:50 p.m.


BC Day Festival of Racing returns Bigger and Better

 Popular jockey Mario Gutierrez  ​is riding five horses on BC Day Festival of Racing this holiday Monday is shown a enjoying a  look at a likeness of himself in the paddock at Hastings. – Credit – Patti Tubbs

When a small group of local horse breeders and owners representing the racing industry met back in 1995 they could never imagine the repercussions that would come out of their gathering.

The group had an idea which would develop into BC Cup Day at Hastings Racecourse involving the best horses and jockeys in this province and other racing jurisdictions.

Now, 22 years later, the concept is still going strong in the form of the newly named BC Day Festival of Racing that returns bigger than ever on this holiday Monday with a nine-race card that includes seven stakes.

It is an afternoon of racing so big that all-time local favourite   jockey Mario Gutierrez is flying in from San Diego with five mounts Monday at Hastings.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Mario said by telephone from California.  “It reminds me of where I came from at the beginning of my career and makes me appreciate how far I have come and where I am now.

“Sometimes things can become a little rough in this business. Sometimes you can get caught up in things and returning to Vancouver always makes me realize how lucky I have been.”

To make the trip, Mario faces a very tight schedule.

“This week is crazy,” he says. “I’m riding at Del Mar Friday and after the races I’m on a plane to Mountaineer Park in West Virginia to ride in Saturday’s Derby.  Right after that race, I fly back to California and ride there on Sunday, then pick up my family and fly to Vancouver.  It’s hectic but I am looking forward to it. Vancouver is our second home.”

LOTS UP FOR GRABS: Whether you have a favourite horse or Monday might be your first time at the races, with 77 runners entered there is no other place to be than Hastings Racecourse for the BC Festival or Racing.

Daz Lin Dawn show winning the $50,000 Emerald Downs Stakes next start Monday’s $50,000 Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes at Hastings Racecourse – Credit Michael Bye
Daz Lin Dawn show winning the $50,000 Emerald Downs Stakes next start Monday’s $50,000 Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes at Hastings Racecourse – Credit Michael Bye

Among the more recognizable names include the sensational sophomore filly Daz Lin Dawn in the $50,000 Hong Kong Jockey Club.  During her brief career, Daz Lin Dawn has won six times and finished second in just eight starts for earnings of over $124,000.  Her main rival will be Yukon Belle, who defeated Daz Lin Dawn in last year’s Fantasy Stakes.  Worth noting is that Daz Lin Dawn will be carrying a hefty 126 pounds, 10 pounds more than Yukon Belle.  It all shapes up to be an incredible race.

In the $50,000 Sir Winston Churchill, A.P. Zona comes with five wins in six starts this year and $108,707 in earnings. His major rival will be Driller who scored an easy win in his last race.

It’s always entertaining when two-year-olds are running, which is what the $50,000 Hard Rock Casino and $25,000 New Westminster (non-betting) are.  In the $50,000 Pacific Customs Brokers Distaff for three-years-old and up fillies and mares, all eyes will be focused on the talented and sometimes cantankerous Snuggles who brings into this race seven wins in 13 starts and over $250,000 in earnings.  The obvious question is what temperament Snuggles will show going into the starting gate going against a field of top-flight rivals.

Another race worth watching will be the $50,000 Pacific Customs Brokers Classic for three-year-olds and up with a full field of older runners and every horse having a fighting chance to win. It’s a handicapping dream race.

10 races, 77 horses, top jockeys … does it get any better than a holiday afternoon at the races?

NOTES ON A PROGRAM: Remember Friday Night Live under the lights with its regular 7 p.m. start kicks off your weekend of racing … Nice to see injured jockey Jose Asencio at the races with his family last weekend.  “My back is still in pain,” he said. “But I’m still looking forward to riding again as I sure do miss it.” Congratulations are in order to North American Thoroughbred Horse Company who was named Owner of the Week by the HBPA of BC and HEI.