Vancouver, B.C. (Oct. 13/14) – Rico Walcott, leading jockey at Northlands Park in Edmonton this year with an awesome 129 wins, shared his riding talents with thoroughbred fans at Hastings Racecourse on a rainy Thanksgiving Monday afternoon.
Walcott scored a TKO with three major stakes races in succession – a natural hat-trick – including the 68th running of the $100,000 Grade 3 BC Premiers aboard favoured Alert Bay.
Walcott also won the $75,000 Fantasy with Ambleside Park and the $75,000 Ascot Graduation aboard Blue Dancer.
“It was a busy, tiring day but I’m not complaining,” Walcott said in the aftermath. Walcott almost swept all four stakes on the Holiday card when he finished second aboard Madeira Park to long shot Touching Promise in the $100,000 Grade 3 Ballerina. Touching Promise, ridden by Mario Gutierrez, paid $29.10 in what Gutierrez described as a “perfect trip”.
Track conditions throughout the afternoon went from fast to good to sloppy as the skies opened just prior to the Ballerina, the first of the four featured stakes.
Taking a break in his riding schedule at Santa Anita in California, Gutierrez arrived at Hastings just 15 minutes before Ballerina post time after being delayed in long lineups clearing Canadian Customs at Vancouver International Airport.
Owned by Russell and Lois Bennett and trained by Barb Heads, Touching Promise finished the mile and an eighth distance for 3-year-olds & up fillies and mares in a final time of 1:51.18.
Then Rico Walcott took over. Ambleside Park, trained by David Forster, won the Fantasy for 2-year-old fillies in a final time of 1:48.11 over a mile and a sixteenth in a race that saw two jockeys unseated – Richard Hamel on Splendid Scat and Keishan Balgobin on Seedle Surprise. Both riders took the rest of the afternoon off, bruised but not seriously injured.
With the BC Premiers victory Monday, Alert Bay – winner of the BC Derby this year – is favoured to be named Hastings Horse of the Year for 2014. Alert Bay is owned by Peter Redekop and trained by Anita Bolton.
Racing resumes Saturday and Sunday at Hastings with the regular 1:50 p.m. start times. The season winds down the weekend of October 25-26.