By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport


SCENE & HEARD: There is no question that the Grade 3, $150,000 BC Derby next Saturday is the premier event of the Hastings Racecourse season. Not just the Derby itself but the entire card that includes the $100,000 BC Oaks, the two $100,000 Jack and Sadie Diamond Futurities, the $50,000 SW Randall Plate and $50,000 Delta Colleen.

You don’t need a calculator to determine the total purse money on Derby/Oaks Day is $550,000. It is the ultimate afternoon of racing entertainment on the 2018 calendar.

Both Richard Hamel and Northlands Park perennial leading rider Rico Walcott have each won the renowned 1 1/8 miles challenge for 3-year-olds on three occasions. Hamel won aboard Second City in 2012, Majesticality in 2010 and Fancy As in 2001. Walcott won it last year with Chief Know It All, Alert Bay in 2014 and Title Contender in 2013.

The two will be going head-to-head in this year’s 73rd running of the BC Derby with Hamel riding Weekend Wizard for trainer Craig MacPherson and Riversedge Racing Stables while Walcott returns aboard Sky Promise for trainer Robertino Diodoro.

Sky Promise is coming off a win in the Grade 3, $200,000 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park on August 25. Weekend Wizard scored an impressive six-length victory in the Chris Loseth on July 1 and was runner-up to Sippin Fire in the Muckleshoot Derby at Emerald Downs on July 29.

Original plans called for Mario Gutierrez returning to his Hastings roots to ride Canadian Game in Saturday’s BC Derby for Reddam Racing and trainer Doug O’Neill. That’s the same combination, of course, that won the Kentucky Derby with I’ll Have Another in 2012 and Nyquist in 2016.

Aaron Gryder, who gained international recognition for his five consecutive wins at Hastings on Aug. 24 including three straight CTHS Sales Stakes, gets the call to ride Canadian Game.   Glen Todd will be the trainer of record in O’Neill’s absence. Todd’s input as a trainer this year at Hastings is second only to Phil Hall, who is running away in the Leading Trainer standings with 31 wins.

Hall trains Peter Redekop’s Apalachee Bay in Saturday’s Derby field as well Wise Market, owned by Hall, Blair Law and Brian Albertson.

As is usually the case, the breeders, owners, trainers and jockey talent runs deep on BC Derby/Oaks Day and this year’s edition is clearly no exception.