Vancouver, B.C. (June 16/18) – Jockey Aaron Gryder won the last two races on Saturday’s card – including the feature $50,000 Strawberry Morn – and still found time to acknowledge a gentleman’s 84th birthday between victories at Hastings Racecourse.

With all the traditional handshakes and high-fives with owners and trainers, Gryder surprised legendary Vancouver Sun photographer Ralph Bower when he and his wife Joan completed the celebration scene as guest decorators following Top Quality’s narrow victory over Yukon Belle in the Strawberry Morn.

“With everything else on his mind he made a point of congratulating me,” Bower, who has worked the Hastings racing scene since the 1940s, said.  “It made my day.”

Gryder made owner David Mowat’s day, as well, finishing the 1 1/16- miles Strawberry Morn for fillies and mares in a final time of 1:45.51. Top Quality made her move around the final turn to catch the pace-setting Yukon Belle.  “I was pretty confident,” Gryder said.  “She likes to extend her stride when she’s in the clear.”

Top Quality paid $5.70, $3.30, $2.50.  Gryder won the nightcap on His Time to Shine for trainer Richard Yates.

Live racing continues Sunday with a solid seven-race card that includes the $50,000 John Longden 6000 for three year olds & up.  Start time on Father’s Day is 1:50 p.m. with special prize draws for dads during the afternoon.


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Darren MacDonald