HorseRacing Central April 17, 2009
HISTORY IN THE MAKING?
We think so. Everyone on our staff at Hastings Racecourse has checked with friends, historians and statistical geeks. Nobody can ever remember a race at Hastings that featured a father/son jockey rivalry. But it’s scheduled to happen opening day - Saturday, April 18 in the ninth and final race on the card - when veteran jockey Mark Walker rides against his son Tyler.
“I’m not sure what thoughts will be going through my mind during the parade to the post,” says Mark. “It will certainly be a highlight in my career, that’s for sure.”
Tyler, just 23, admits to being a little nervous in making his Hastings debut in a 10-horse field that includes his Dad. Tyler rides 15-1 morning line longshot Swinging Fox while father Mark is on Trinidad Bay, listed at 6-1.
To take the “Family Ties” another step, Tyler’s uncle Tom MacDonald is the agent for both he and his Dad. Tyler began riding in Kamloops a year ago before heading to Portland Meadows to gallop ponies and wound up winning nine races as an apprentice jockey.
MUTTI UNVEILS MANDATE
Hastings Racecourse GM Raj Mutti hosted an active season-opening press conference in the Eclipse Lounge earlier this week and told a large turnout of media that 2009 represents a significant, break-through season with a revised 76-day thoroughbred meet complemented by a full gaming floor with 600 slot machines. “It makes Hastings one of the most popular entertainment destinations in Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest,” Mutti said.
He noted that the mandate at Hastings this year would be to provide “affordable, comfortable and enjoyable” times over the course of the season that runs from April 18 through November 8.
Mutti said that the barn area is full for the first time in quite a number of years with 923 horses on the grounds, up from 850 from a year ago. Another encouraging development has been the arrival of horses from Alberta, Washington State and California for this year’s competition at Hastings.
An example of the new talent on hand is the arrival of Bear Stables’ owner Danny Dion and trainer Dale Greenwood. Dion last year won Sovereign Awards as outstanding owner and for Canadian Horse of the Year, sprinter Fatal Bullet.
“It gives us the opportunity to improve the quality of top-end horses,” Mutti said. “That’s been our long-range goal.”
BIG NAME HORSES RETURN
Against The Sky, named Older Mare of the Year in 2008 following stakes wins in the Delta Colleen and Ballerina Breeders’ Cup, is entered in Sunday’s seventh race on opening weekend. Against The Sky is one of many of Hastings’ showcase horses returning to Hastings this season. The list includes True Metropolitan, Krazy Koffee, Spaghetti Mouse and Sir Gallovic, to name a few.
OUT OF TOWN SCOREBOARD
Locally-based filly Dancing Allstar is running for owner Bob Cheema in Saturday’s $150,000 Whimsical Stakes (1:36 p.m.) at Woodbine. Dancing Allstar was a two-time stakes winner at Hastings last year for trainer Terry Jordan (Emerald Downs and CTHS Sales). After training at Hastings this spring, she headed east and has worked brilliantly over the Woodbine polytrack. Also on Saturday the last serious prep for the Kentucky Derby (May 2) will be run at Keeneland with the $300,000 Lexington Stakes (2:40 p.m.). Square Eddie from Doug O’Neill’s barn is the 9-5 morning line favourite.
MISS CLOVERDALE CLASSIC AT FRASER
Nine fillies and mares representing seven wagering interests are ready to go in Saturday’s $23,000 Miss Cloverdale Classic as the 10th race on the card. The early favourites will be the entry of Full Circle Faith and Im Bossy. Having drawn the one and two posts, they look to control the race early. Full Circle Faith is undefeated since arriving at Fraser from Ontario, going 4-for-4. Billy Davis Jr. will be in the bike for the first time. Bred by Al Bowman, Full Circle Faith is related to recent B.C. Harness Hall of Fame inductee Hy Class Minbar. Im Bossy will have Bill Davis at the lines.
With racing action down to two days a week at Fraser Downs – Friday and Saturday night – both days this weekend have 13 races set to go as the horse population remains high. Starting times each night are 7:30.
DAVIS CONTINUES TO DOMINATE
Bill Davis was in the winner’s circle four times last Saturday, including scoring the natural hat trick with three straight victories for JJJ Stables in the opening three races.