Vancouver, B.C. (Aug. 23/16) – Owner/trainer Rob Gilker is a man of few words who often lets a telling smile do the talking for him.

And that was again the case in the winner’s circle Monday night at Hastings Racecourse.

Rob and his wife Vicky have a hot little 3-year-old filly on their hands in Victress, winner of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Handicap that paves the way to this year’s $100,000 BC Oaks on September 10.

Purchased in the first-ever Hastings Paddock Sale for $3,500 on March 28, Victress won the $50,000 Hong Kong Jockey Club by going from last to first under jockey Amadeo Perez, traveling the 1 1/16-mile course in a final time of 1:46.10.

Unlike the $50,000 Winston Churchill Derby Trial for 3-year-olds that saw overwhelming favourite Opportunistic ($3.80) win his third straight stakes race, Victress paid a handsome $21.90 by charging past 1-2 favourite C U At Eau Claire and drawing away from second-place finisher Princess O’Prado by three lengths.

“It was much the same type of performance in her debut when she rallied from last to finish second,” Gilker said, referring to her first career start in a maiden special weight 6 ½ furlongs race on August 5.

Victress was the second stakes winner this year to come out of the Paddock Sale for horses of racing age, the first being Assets Included who won the Nursery on BC Cup Day.

“As an industry we are delighted to see two stakes winners from the sale,” says Darren MacDonald, Hastings Racecourse General Manager and Director, BC Racing.  “Our goal was to give breeders and horsemen a chance to sell horses that they didn’t manage to sell in the fall.  Next year our Paddock Sale should be bigger and better after the success of some of the sale graduates.”

BC Oaks/BC Derby Day is traditionally the crown jewel of Hastings’ schedule and Opportunistic has clearly set himself up as the solid favourite in the Grade 3 $150,000 British Columbia Derby in three weeks’ time.

With regular rider David Lopez saying Opportunistic “just keeps getting better”, the Troy Taylor-trained Kentucky-bred gelding wore down a game Silvertown in the final strides to win the 1 1/16-mile Winston Churchill Derby Trial in a final time of 1:46.07.


Also on Monday’s twilight card were two more legs of the qualifying races for the Champions Starter Series.  The Distaff division for fillies and mares was won by favoured Pretty Reckless, ridden by leading jockey Richard Hamel (55 wins) and leading trainer Mike Anderson (24 wins).  The colt and gelding division winner was Western Heritage for Alberta owner Don Danard and trainer Greg Tracy, ridden by Northlands leading rider Rico Walcott.

Next up on the Hastings Racecourse stakes schedule are the CTHS Sales for 2-year-old fillies as well as 2-year-old colts & geldings on the Friday Night Live card beginning at 7:00 p.m.


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Darren MacDonald