July 10 2014 – For a sixth consecutive year, track announcer Dan Jukich will launch the annual Wiener Dog Races at Hastings Racecourse this weekend with the words: “Owners: Start your wieners!”

What began six years ago as a plea for a dozen dachshunds to compete has now turned into a waiting list scenario with 64 wiener dogs engaging in eight heats over Saturday and Sunday with the Grand Finale resulting in a $1,000 payoff to the 2014 champion.

Presented by Hastings Racecourse and Schneiders, there is a total of $2,500 in the prize pool. Each heat winner will be awarded $100 prior to the championship showdown with $1,000 going to the winner, $500 to the first runner-up and $200 to the second runner-up.

Official Starter and Wiener Warden Joe Gray abides by some stringent rules. “Only puppies registered to compete in the races will be allowed on the grounds at any time,” Gray says. “Each wiener dog must be accompanied by 2 humans wearing matching bibs. One will escort the competitor to the starting gate while the other will wait at the finish line. Each contestant must reach the finish line on his or her own and not be pulled across by an over-zealous owner.”

Saturday’s five qualifying heats take place immediately after live thoroughbred races 2 through 6; Sunday’s qualifying heats will go after races 2, 3 and 4 with the championship showdown after race 6 at approximately 4:22 p.m.

Every effort will be made to avoid a previous comical incident when an anxious wiener dog bolted from the starting gate and ran directly under the railing to his left that took him bolting across the track infield. A number of breathless security guards chased the wandering dachshund around the clubhouse turn and along the backstretch, leaving one of the uniformed pursuers to say: “I guess I’m too old to cut the mustard anymore. We just couldn’t ketch up!”

Live thoroughbred racing begins at 1:50 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday and, as always, there is no admission charge.