By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport
SCENE & HEARD: A whole new world opened up to Burnaby couple Carol and Gary Walters in the summer of 2015 when they were walked through the tunnel leading to the backstretch at Hastings Racecourse.
Gary had just signed on as one of 200 racing fans as Hastings Racecourse Club 1 owners under the direction of manager Richard Yates. Carol joined her husband for the inaugural tour, not knowing quite what to expect.
“We were both overwhelmed,” Gary says. “It was our first meeting with trainer Steve Henson and he had everyone all fired up with his enthusiasm and knowledge. Right off the bat the entire group suddenly felt at home. It only got better from there.”
With the success of Club 1 and particularly some amazing performances by five-year-old gelding Square Dancer, winner of three races in four starts including two stakes, Yates formed Hastings Racecourse Club 2 with popular trainer Nancy Betts in charge.
Carol Walters quickly jumped in and a friendly husband/wife competition was well underway.
Gary is a sprinkler fitter for commercial buildings; Carol works as an assistant manager at the Scandinavian Community Centre in Burnaby.
Together they renovated Richard Yates’ office and tack room as a surprise this past January. Carol painted the walls and ceiling while Gary put down a new floor, installed new lighting and through Craig’s List added a desk and futon.
A week doesn’t go by that Carol drops off her oven-baked chocolate chip cookies for the workers in the Yates, Hanson, Dave Milburn and Dino Condilenios barns.
“We both have become respectful of everyone in the backstretch,” Gary says. “We’re grateful to have had the opportunity to meet so many great people. We feel like we belong as part of one big family.”
Speaking of family, Gary’s ‘best friend’ is younger brother Dale, the bronze medalist Olympic boxer at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles. Their dad was the late Lenny Walters, one of Canada’s Hall of Fame boxing greats from the 1950’s.