Vancouver, B.C. (Sept. 30/16) – A normal question frequently heard at a racetrack, for obvious reasons, is: “What are the odds?”
In the case of veteran jockey Richard Hamel, the answer might be as obvious as the question heading into this weekend at Hastings Racecourse.
Hamel is just two wins shy of 1,500 career riding victories and having 11 mounts heading into the weekend – six on Saturday and five on Sunday – the question must be asked: “What are the odds?”
“Nobody wants to jinx him,” says Darren MacDonald, Hastings Racecourse General Manager. “It’s like mentioning a baseball pitcher has a no-hitter going or a goaltender is working on a shutout. The less said, the better.”
Indeed, while Hamel has been in a mini-slump recently – at least by his standards – his legion of friends and fans are ready to celebrate his reaching the magic 1,500 barrier and becoming part of local thoroughbred racing history this weekend.
“Winning races never grows old,” Hamel says. “It’s what keeps us going.”
The 47-year-old Terrace, B.C. native is a three-time winner of the Leading Jockey Award at Hastings Racecourse and he’s clearly on his way to make it four. With only six racing dates left on the 2016 calendar, Hamel has 63 wins and a comfortable lead on his younger riding rivals.
“It dawned on me this past spring that I just got a year older and to keep pace with the up and coming talent we have in the jocks room, I’ve had to work extra hard to stay in top shape. I can’t remember when I’ve felt this good.”
Hamel’s six mounts Saturday include the morning line favourite or co-favourite in the $50,000 CTHS Sales Stake for 3-year-old fillies aboard Cu At Eau Claire (3-5) and the $50,000 CTHS Sales Stake for 3-year-old colts and geldings on Stanz In Command (5-2). He is also aboard Sailingforthesun (6-1) in the $100,000 Ballerina for 3-year-old & up fillies and mares and Square Dancer (5-1) in the $100,000 BC Premiers for 3-year-olds & up.
“Winning 1,000 races meant a lot to me because it was a number I never thought I’d reach,” Hamel says. “Now I’m looking at 1,500 and I don’t think it has really sunk in.”
Hamel rode trainer Ed Thompson’s Party Prospector in 2010 when he registered in 1,000th career win.
Saturday’s seven-race card begins at 1:50 p.m. with the same start time for Sunday’s eight-race card.
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