HorseRacing Central March 16, 2007
MAGNA 5 CONTINUES TO GROW
The weekly handle on the Magna 5 & Special Simulcast is creating major interest around the world and local horseplayers can get in on the action through our simulcast network on Saturdays.
Magna 5 has a $500,000 gross pool guarantee with a minimum bet being $2! Laurel Race Course in Baltimore hosts the program that attracts weekly handles of more than $1 million.
FOR THE GUYS!
It’s Men’s Day at Fraser Downs Racetrack & Casino on Saturday, March 17th. Free gift for all the guys (while supplies last). Throw a lucky “7” or “11” in our giant dice game for a chance to WIN a $500 wagering voucher. Enter the draw to WIN a St. John’s fishing trip, Canucks tickets and more. Special guest Bro Jake will be joining us for an exciting day of racing. See you there!
PANCAKE BREAKFAST TO SUPPORT VARIETY – THE CHILDREN’S CHARITY
On Saturday, March 24th, to kick-off the Western Regional Driving Championships, Fraser Downs is hosting a “Daily Double” Pancake Breakfast from 10 am to noon at the front entrance. With a minimum $2 donation you can support Variety – The Children’s Charity.
WESTERN REGIONAL HARNESS DRIVING CHAMPIONSHIP
The starting lineup has been confirmed for the western regional harness driving showdown at Fraser Downs Racetrack & Casino on Saturday, March 24th. It is the first leg of a series of four regional events that will lead to the Canadian championship during Old Home Week in Charlottetown, P.E.I. on August 9th.
The eight-man field of western Canada’s top drivers appearing at Fraser Downs March 24th includes local driving stars Jim Marino, Serge Masse and Scott Knight. Alberta will be represented by the veteran trio of Gerry Hudon, Jamie Gray and Bill Tainsh while Ron Cullen checks in from Manitoba and Glenn LeDrew from Saskatchewan.
“It’s a terrific roster,” says Fraser Downs General Manager Scott Sinclair. “We’re proud to be hosting the first series. Standardbred fans are in for a real treat.”
Declaring regional champions to determine Canada’s representative at the 2007 World Driving Championship in Australia and New Zealand in November is a new format devised by Standardbred Canada. Two winners from each of the four regionals advance to the national championship round.
After the opening salvo at Fraser Downs, the remaining regional driving events are in London, Ontario at the end of April; in Montreal on May 27th and Charlottetown near the end of May.
The eventual Canadian champ will have a chance at winning $25,000 in prize money at the World Championship October 31st – November 9th.
EXCITING NEW 4-YEAR AGREEMENT
The sold-out gathering at the B.C. Standardbred Industry Awards Dinner fell silent when emcee Dan Jukich indicated something of huge importance was about to be announced.
Chuck Keeling, Vice-President of Racing Operations for Great Canadian Gaming Corporation was called to the podium in the palatial banquet room at Newlands Golf & Country Club. Also summoned to centre stage was Jim Vinnell, President of the B.C. Standardbred Association.
The audience erupted in a voluminous cheer as Keeling and Vinnell extended firm handshakes after confirming that a four-year agreement had been finalized that will result in 107 racing days at Fraser Downs Racetrack & Casino on a September through June schedule.
“Longevity was the main concern of our horsemen,” Vinnell said. “This agreement stabilizes things in the sense an owner now knows when he buys a horse to race at Fraser Downs there is a four-year plan in place to cover his investment.”
Keeling added: “We’re very pleased that both parties were able to find common ground through compromise to make this deal happen. It provides the horsemen with the support they were looking for and will create exciting new promotional opportunities for open stakes racing at Fraser Downs, which is something we have not had before.”
David Aldred, Executive Director of the B.C. Standardbred Association and B.C. Standardbred Breeders Society, said the extension of the live racing season at Fraser Downs would provide a sense of certainty for the horsemen. “For the first time a major commitment has been made towards the scheduling of open stakes at Fraser Downs,” Aldred said. “Our aim is to develop some signature stakes for the local season with a view to have a major stakes program in British Columbia during the 2010 Olympics’ year. We’ve now given the horsemen the platform that’s been needed.”
Over coffee the next day at Fraser Downs, during regular Sunday racing, Vinnell sat at a table with Keeling and Aldred reviewing the previous evening’s major announcement. “I can tell you one thing,” a smiling Vinnell said. “There’s plenty of excitement among our people in the backstretch.”
RACEBOOK ROCKS IN RICHMOND
It started out as Tug’s Sports Bar. Nothing special. Just a tiny meeting place off in a corner away from the constant hum of slot machines on the second floor at River Rock Casino in Richmond.
Today it is very special. The bustling new Racebook at River Rock caters to thoroughbred and standardbred racing enthusiasts who can monitor seven different tracks simultaneously in strictly first-class fashion.
“The combination of location, the facility itself and customer service has made the Racebook at River Rock the phenomenal success that it is,” says Bill McNeill, General Manager of TBC (Teletheatre B.C.). “There’s nothing quite like it. A group of us sat down with our designer, George Pitman, and it all came together quickly.”
A total of 50 LCD television screens embrace the brightly-lit room and there are options for customers who might want to approach their handicapping in a more private setting. The most exquisite area features five private mini-rooms with access to six television screens and touch screen personal account wagering terminals.
Each tastefully-designed room is named after a legendary British Columbia horse: Traveling Victor, George Royal and Delta Colleen, three outstanding thoroughbred horses from Hastings Racecourse; Hy Class Minbar and Bradner Gallant, two renowned standardbreds.
There are also 60 individual cubicles that enable a person to be in full control of the simulcast televised track of his or her choice.
“There are three ‘live’ teller positions and 12 self-serve terminals to accommodate those people wagering,” McNeill says. “Roughly 80 per cent of wagering is self-service.”
With full food and beverage service, the Racebook opens at 9 a.m. and normally closes at 11 p.m., depending upon which tracks are running. The hours are extended for late-night Australia and Hong Kong racing.
McNeill is in charge of the 16 off-track wagering TBC Race Centres throughout the province and says his goal is to “double that amount within 18-24 months”.
Born in Winnipeg, McNeill remembers as a 13-year-old gathering enough money through his paper route to buy Jets’ NHL season tickets. He wound up working full-time with the Jets as Retail Sales Manager from 1985 through 1993 and helping out with game night operations.
McNeill joined the Manitoba Lottery Corporation in l994 before heading west to B.C. Lotteries, which led to becoming Director of Gaming at Fraser Downs in charge of setting up the new casino operations as well as hiring and training staff. He was hired by Great Canadian Gaming Corporation in 2004. In 2005 McNeill took over as GM at Fraser Downs and became General Manager of TBC in February, 2006.
Besides River Rock in Richmond, McNeill oversees off-track wagering TBC Centres in Campbell River, Coquitlam, Courtenay, Chilliwack, Dawson Creek, Kamloops, Kelowna, Penticton, Prince George, Salmon Arm, Sechelt, Squamish, Vernon and Victoria.
HALL OF FAME AT FRASER DOWNS
Fraser Downs Racetrack & Casino General Manager Scott Sinclair has also been appointed President of the new B.C. Harness Racing Hall of Fame that was unveiled at the Industry Awards Dinner. Sinclair was thrilled to name the four initial members whose plaques will now and forever be displayed at the Wall of Fame on the main concourse level at Fraser Downs.
Inducted posthumously were builders Jim Keeling, Sr. and Pat Brennan, along with trainer-driver Keith Linton and B.C. Count, often referred to as “the most successful Canadian-sired harness horse of all-time”.
Mr. Keeling and partners Keith Waples and Doug Gillespie returned full-time harness racing to B.C. in l976 with the opening of Cloverdale Raceway, the forerunner of Fraser Downs. Keeling, Sr. was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2001.
A former Mayor of Squamish, cigar-smoking Pat Brennan kept harness racing alive in B.C. during the late 1960’s after years of supporting the sport as an owner at Paterson Park in Ladner. A former president of the Pacific National Exhibition, Brennan was a successful logger who drove, trained and owned standardbreds.
Saskatchewan-born Keith Linton drove 2,732 winners in his illustrious career that began on the Prairies and U.S. before coming to B.C. in l976. He was also a top trainer and had his own stable, at one time consisting of 30 horses. Known to his friends and colleagues as ‘Link’, he was Canada’s leader in the Universal Driver Rating System (UDRS) for six consecutive years.
B.C. Count was foaled in Aldergrove in l972 and went on to campaign with much success across Canada and from New York to Hollywood. Owned by Jack Graham, B.C. Count had 45 two-minute (or better) miles to his credit and was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1984.
HALL OF FAME: HASTINGS VERSION
The long-established B.C. Horse Racing Hall of Fame added three new members during the 2006 Thoroughbred Industry Awards Dinner: Trainer Lance Giesbrecht, Breeder John Gunther and l998 B.C. Horse of the Year, Artic Son.
Giesbrecht was the leading Trainer at Hastings Racecourse four straight years from l994 to l997. His 76 victories in l997 still stand as a record for a single season.
Gunther, who bred several local stakes winners in Langley, was the breeder of Stevie Wonderboy, winner of the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Artic Son, bred and owned by Rassul Vahabzadeh and trained by Cindy Krasner, was a three-time B.C. Cup Classic winner who won 13 career races for more than $500,000 in earnings.
A dream became a reality for Louis Iskra as he prepares to fly to Los Angeles to watch the Santa Anita Derby next month as winner of our California Dreamin’ contest at Fraser Downs. Mr. Iskra finished with $453 in his bankroll from playing races three through eight on Saturday, March 10. Ron Prosick was second with $420 in winnings and Bill Wachowicz rounded out the top three with $279.
A horseplayer for many years, Mr. Iskra plays both breeds of races and has been a regular at Fraser Downs since it opened. Louis and his wife Irene will be spending three days California Dreamin’ at Santa Anita.
ASK THE HANDICAPPER
In each edition of HorseRacing Central we invite readers to email our resident analyst Mike Heads at firstname.lastname@example.org with a race-related question. The person who submits the question we publish wins lunch for two at Hastings Racecourse or Fraser Downs Racetrack & Casino. Our winner this issue is Glorida McCaskie who asks:
“Is there information for beginners who want to place bets that explains the various betting strategies such as triactors, boxing a bet, part wheels, superfecta, etc., when certain races are better than others to use these methods?”
You can go to the Hastings website and click to ‘New to Racing’ and there are several interesting links from there. As to when to apply a certain wager that is strictly up to the individual. There is no rule when certain types of wagers can be used. Common sense should come into play in all wagers. That is to say if a 2-to-5 favourite looks unbeatable a “win” bet will provide a very small reward so this is when you might want to apply an exactor or triactor key as part of your wager.