HorseRacing Central – April 5, 2013
‘ALL SYSTEMS GO’ FOR HASTINGS OPENING WEEKEND
Raj Mutti, Regional General Manager, BC Racing and GM at Hastings Racecourse, surveyed his daily checklist Friday and gave it the ‘two thumbs up’ sign as preparations continue for the April 13-14 weekend opening of the 2013 thoroughbred season.
“Everything is right on schedule,” Mutti said. “We have a lot of exciting things planned for the coming year and it all starts in just eight days!”
Mutti said the mandate in 2013 will be to increase handle and field size for a third consecutive year. “Over the last couple of seasons as part of our reduced takeout strategy we have seen significant handle gains,” he noted. “We were up 5% in 2011 and 12% in 2012. This year we intend to continue that trend with further market penetration.”
Mutti confirmed that Hastings’ industry-leading low takeouts will again be at 15% Win, Place and Show as well as the Pick 3, 4, 5 and Daily Double features. “Also, we will be offering our U.S. players fractional wagering on Superfecta and Pick 4 Pools at $.20 and Pick 5 Pools at $.60,” Mutti said. “In the U.S., players can wager at Hastings through TVG, Twinspires and Xpressbet, also at selected tracks as well as off-track locations.”
The 2013 Hastings schedule includes 69 race days beginning Saturday, April 13 and continuing through to Thanksgiving Monday, October 14. Weekend and holiday cards will have consistent start times of 1:50 p.m. with the exception of two marquee days – BC Cup (August 5) and BC Derby/Oaks (September 8) – when post time will be 12:50 p.m. because of added races on those two special cards. The popular Friday Night Live cards, 12 in number, will begin at 7 p.m.
AARON GRYDER JOINS HASTINGS JOCKEY COLONY
A buzz went through North American horse racing circles when it was announced earlier in the week that celebrated jockey Aaron Gryder has agreed to be first-call rider for owner Glen Todd and his North American Thoroughbred Horse Company (NATHC) at Hastings Racecourse for the 2013 campaign.
Gryder packed up his gear at Santa Anita and will be riding during opening weekend at Hastings. He began his career in 1987 and has earned more than $112 million at racetracks around the world. His most significant victory came aboard Well Armed in the $6 million 2009 Dubai World Cup.
MAJOR PREPS SATURDAY FOR KENTUCKY DERBY
The long road to the Kentucky Derby on May 4 continues with two graded stakes on Saturday. The feature at Aqueduct is the $1 million Grade 1 Wood Memorial (3:28 p.m.) with undefeated Verrazano listed as the 4-5 morning line favourite with JR Velazques in the irons. Second choice is Vyjack, also undefeated, with Joel Rosario slated to ride. Rosario is back on North American soil after guiding Animal Kingdom to victory in last weekend’s Dubai World Cup.
The scene shifts to Santa Anita Park Saturday for the running of the $750,000 Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby (4:00 p.m.). The morning line favourite is Flashback with Garrett Gomez riding. Flashback has won two out of three starts for trainer Bob Baffert. Due to an ankle injury, second favourite Hear to Ghost was a late scratch.
SCHEDULE ADJUSTMENT AT FRASER DOWNS
This is the final weekend at Fraser Downs Racetrack & Casino on the Friday night/Sunday afternoon schedule. Following this weekend and until the middle of May, races will be on Friday and Saturday nights at 7:00 p.m. Both days this weekend have 13-card races.