Vancouver, B.C. (April 21/17) – The wait for the 2017 Hastings Racecourse season to open is over and will be forgotten with an exciting eight-race card set for Sunday afternoon beginning at 1:50 p.m.
Following a frustrating delay due to horrific weather conditions that interrupted the February and March training schedules, the new 52-day thoroughbred racing schedule kicks into gear Sunday with two $50,000 stake races: the Brighouse Belles and Swift Thoroughbreds Inaugural.
“It’s a relief to see the light at the end of the tunnel after what has been the toughest winter in decades,” said Darren MacDonald, GM at Hastings and Director, BC Racing. “The Swift Thoroughbreds Inaugural will have a field of 11 with seven of the horses having won at least one stake race in 2016. Without a doubt, it will be one of the most interesting and competitive opening day cards in a number of years at Hastings.”
Richard Hamel, leading jockey at Hastings last year for a fourth time in his career, rides the morning line favourites in both featured stakes: Modern (5-2) in the Swift Inaugural and C U At Eau Claire (2-1) in the Brighouse Belles.
“I’ve been around long enough to realize you never know what to expect once that gate opens,” Hamel, 48, says. “We have new horses at Hastings this year and some new faces in the jocks room. It’s always a challenge.”
Modern won the George Royal, John Longden 6000 and Swift Inaugural last year and faces some tough competition with the likes of Opportunistic (Dave Lopez up) and Blue Dancer (Quincy Welch), also having won three stakes in 2016. Opportunistic won the Sir Winston Churchill, Chris Loseth and Emerald Derby last year while Blue Dancer romped to three stakes wins at Northlands Park.
The Brighouse Belles for fillies and mares should be combative with C U At Eau Claire – a five-time stakes winner – facing the likes of Dear Lilly, coming off a successful winter in Turf Paradise, and Quatre Cat, a second-place finisher to Avadiva in the 2016 Brighouse Belles.
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