While the loudest cheer at Hastings Racecourse on the weekend was reserved for American Pharoah’s history-making Triple Crown victory at the Belmont in New York, local jockey Richard
Hamel also received his fair share of adulation. Hamel won three of the four $50,000 stakes features on the Saturday/Sunday cards at Hastings and came close to making it a full sweep with a second place finish in the one he didn’t win.

“It’s always a thrill to win a stakes race,” Hamel said.  “Winning three in one weekend is something special.”

His string started with a victory Saturday in the River Rock Casino aboard Kentucky-bred Bluegrass Angus trained by Craig MacPherson.  “Angus is my middle name,” MacPherson quipped in the winner’s circle. “I liked the horse the minute he arrived.”

Finishing the 6 ½ furlong sprint in a final time of 1:16.15, Bluegrass Angus was in full command through the stretch to win by six lengths.  He paid $7.00, $4.20 and $4.60.

On the heels of winning the Ross McLeod on May 3, Quatre Cat made it two in a row for trainer Sylvea Gregory with an impressive win in the Emerald Downs for 3-year-old fillies.  Ryan Pacheo brought Quatre Cat home in 1:17.93 over 6 ½  furlongs, paying $3.10, $2.20 and $2.10 as the betting favourite. Hamel finished second on Finality’s Charmer.

Sunday belonged to Hamel as he won both the Vancouver Sun and Sir Winston Churchill.  Hamel leads the jockey standings with 20 wins.  He rode Arabella’s Muse to a one-length victory over Hollywood Miss in the Vancouver Sun for fillies and mares.  Trained by Mike Anderson, Arabella’s Muse drew clear in the stretch and finished the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.58.  She paid $5.70, $3.10 and $2.80.

Hamel was in the winner’s circle the very next race with Modern in the Sir Winston Churchill for 3-year-olds and up traveling 1 1/16 miles.  Referring to Modern as “matured and on his game” by trainer Dino Condilenios, the 5-year-old rushed to the lead from along the rail and went wire-to-wire in a final time of 1:43.43, The payoff was $7.50, $4.70 and $3.40.

Racing resumes at Hastings Saturday and Sunday with 1:50 p.m. starts.