By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport
SCENE & HEARD: Emcee Dan Jukich said it best during his opening remarks at Monday’s BC Cup Day Horsemen’s Golf Tournament. Referring to the surprise visit of seriously injured jockey Jeffery Burningham to Hastings Racecourse the previous day and the emotional reaction from everyone on the grounds, Jukich said: “It proves once again that we are a family. We care about each other.”
Jeff’s story of his remarkable recovery from a spill on July 14 has been well-documented. How he reappeared at Hastings two weeks later after suffering a bruised lung, broken back, ribs and shoulder left the crowd spellbound before breaking into resounding applause as he stood on his own in the winner’s circle.
Jukich’s message about the racing fraternity caring about each other was endorsed again in the Marquee Tent prior to tonight’s race card at the Memorial for Richard Yates, who’s sudden passing on March 22 of this year left the industry in absolute shock.
Richard succumbed to a massive heart attack at his Abbotsford home at age 74. To this day, co-workers, friends and fans still look for his prominent presence on race days, myself included.
Richard was an owner, breeder and trainer for almost three decades and served as Secretary Treasurer for the Canadian and British Columbia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Associations.
Robert Herrick effectively penned these words upon hearing of his long-time friend’s passing: “Richard was well-liked and an integral part of the backstretch community and gave freely of his time, trying his best to help everyone in need. He was a true advocate, ambassador and a friend to racing.”
Many of those friends were out in force Monday at Newlands Golf & Country Club supporting the New Stride Thoroughbred Adoption Society that is dedicated to finding adoptive homes and new careers for former thoroughbred racehorses. At a mind-boggling 16-under, Team 7A consisted of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, his Edmonton Oilers’ prospective teammate Steve Iacobellis, short-game wizard Mike Heads and his buddy Al Tolusso.
The BC Cup Day golf field attracted 120 players from various levels of the horseracing industry who were buzzing about the return of jockey Mario Gutierrez as a guest rider for Monday’s BC Cup Day 10-race card with an early start of 12:50 p.m.
Mario, who will always be a member of the Hastings aforementioned family, has five mounts scheduled for the holiday Monday BC Cup celebrations.