Vancouver, B.C. (May 4/19) – Kentucky Derby Day turned into Kentucky Dollar Day in more ways than one at Hastings Racecourse Saturday afternoon.
With the total wagering handle skyrocketing to $810,252 at Hastings – more than double last year’s number on opening day – a mammoth gathering of local racing fans got caught up in the emotion of the historic developments at Churchill
Downs when 65-1 longshot Country House was placed first through a disqualification to win the 145th edition of the fabled Run for the Roses.
Deep lineups watched the Derby live on the jumbo screen, then proceeded to turn their attentions to four consecutive $50,000 stake races that closed the curtain on one of the most successful opening day celebrations in Hastings history.
When the out-of-town Derby dust cleared, jockey Enrique Gonzalez won both the Brighouse Belles and Ross McLeod for trainer Phil Hall while trainer Glen Todd also hit a stakes double with Denny Velazquez winning the Jim Coleman Province and Scott Williams delivering the biggest upset of the day in the Swift Thoroughbreds Inaugural.
“It was a great start to the season,” said Hastings general manager Darren MacDonald. “The horsemen really came to the party with a quality eight-race card, all with strong fields, and judging by the handle, the fans enjoyed it too.”
There most certainly could have been a message forthcoming when the aptly named Good Luck to You won the Brighouse Belles by closing with a rush to win by a decisive 2 ¼ lengths in a final time of 1:17.68. It would be the first of two trips to the winner’s circle for owner George Gilbert when the combination of Hall and Gonzalez again scored in the Ross McLeod with three-year-old filly Summerland going wire-to-wire in 1:17.36.
The biggest payoff of the afternoon was provided by 21-1 long shot Pan Handle with Williams taking the four-year-old gelding on a winning journey in a final time of 1:16.97 in the Swift Thoroughbreds Inaugural. Pan Handle paid $45.70, $17.00, $7.40. “He broke sharply, went inside and just kept running,” Williams said.
Velazquez, a newcomer on the local jockey scene, quickly made himself comfortable in his new surroundings with his first win at Hastings in his first start in the first race on the card. Velazquez and Todd were high-fiving each other again after Dr. John H won the Jim Coleman Province in a final time of 1:18.13. It would be Todd’s first of three wins on the day.
“I kind of like Hastings and Vancouver,” Velazquez quipped. “I can’t let this opportunity slip by without thanking Mr. Todd and his team for bringing me here.”
Velazquez arrived last week as one of the leading riders at Turf Paradise this past winter season with an impressive 98 wins.
Live racing resumes at Hasting Racecourse Sunday at 1:50 p.m. with another eight-race card.
For more information:
General Manager, Director BC Racing