Friday Night Throwdown

Those who have been eagerly digesting the Hastings condition book will know that suitable spots for Warrior’s Promise have been quite scarce. Club II owners did however get a touch of good fortune as a substitute race was offered and filled for Friday evening. Attracting a total of seven fillies for the Maiden Optional $50,000 claimer, this looks on paper to be one of the better spots that WP has had to try and get her first win photo. The Club II flag-bearer (who will also be wearing blinkers for the first time this year) will attract Canadian Derby winning jockey Amadeo Perez.

Looking through the card, the fourth and fifth place finishers from her last outing, Reproach and Suzy Mascara are signed on for this event. The form of that race has received a bit of a boost, as it’s second place finisher, Butterscotch Blend, disposed of her Maiden status when winning CTHS Sales Stakes in fine fashion last Friday.

Warrior’s Promise will be wearing blinkers for the first time on Friday, which, if nothing else will save on some of the cleanup work for Patty’s team!

The most intriguing entrant in this race will be the Emerald Downs shipper, La Princippessa, trained by Blaine Wright. The Ontario bred daughter of Tiznow passed the sales ring for $65,000 and will be making her fourth career start. Her previous races puts suggests she fits this field nicely and it is always interesting to see how our horses compare against those at nearby tracks. Her best race to date was a June 22nd Maiden Special Weight in which she finished second after sitting close behind the gate-to-wire winner, Lasting Light. Given that was her best result and the only race she has been asked to get close to the pace she may be a contender to find the lead on Friday.

Next across the track is another Ontario bred, Hefty Ransom, who makes the jump from the $16,000 level. The daughter of Shakin It Up has failed to hit the top three in any of her five career races and despite the big weight allowance afforded to her by apprentice Learie Seecharan, she will likely be a big paying option at the mutuel window.

Another entrant coming from the same $16,000 race will be Honky Tonk Woman. Claimed on that day by trainer Keith Pedersen and Owner Gary McNeil, the daughter of Violence has struggled to replicate her two-year-old form which saw her third in the BC Cup Debutante. She has had just over two months off since her last race, but following a sharp August 19th four-furlong workout of 48.20 could be worth a second look in the paddock.

The final, and third class jumper from that $16,000 event will be Foxy Brunette, making her second career start. After completely missing the break and spotting the field 5 lengths she steadied and managed to finish a respectable fourth, picking off three of her rivals in the process. If she can improve on her gate work, she may be one to keep an eye on.

Warrior’s Promise moves past Reproach down the lane in her last outing.

Club II members will be crossing their fingers that this is finally the day that they get to get a win photo with their filly, and on paper it may be a good chance to do so. There doesn’t appear to be a ton of speed in the race and outside of La Principessa and Foxy Brunette her competition have been quite battle tested at Hastings, meaning that one of the others will have to outrun their form to find the winners circle.

WP is in race 6, so paddock time will be around 20 minutes before the post time of 9:20pm. We’ll have the table setup shortly after 6:00pm and hope to see as many members as possible to hopefully cheer on our first winner of the year!

Weekend Round-Up: August 19th

It was a Racing Club extravaganza on Monday evening, as both Clubs saw action in the race we showed our appreciation to (recently retired) 2018 Marathon Series hero, Shooting Jacket, who had been accepted into New Stride’s exemplary thoroughbred adoption program.

George Royal models the beautiful retirement blanket on offer to the winner of the Shooting Jacket Retirement Purse.

Representing Club I, Square Dancer breezed through paddocking with his typical nonchalance. Club II debutante, Fast Bid was a little on her toes and gave everyone a reminder that the noise and close proximity of the crowd at Hastings can take a little getting used to. Trainer Pat Jarvis’s team and jockey Romario Saunders did a good job of ensuring she was settled down by time they headed out of the paddock though and on review her behaviour was nothing overly out of the ordinary.

The noise of the speakers gives Bidder a little bit of a surprise.

With no scratches, the field of seven took to the back stretch to load into the gate without incident. Shooting to the front of the pack going into the first bend was the wagering favourite Absolutely Stylish, joined by Imposing Cat and surprisingly, Square Dancer. Richard Hamel quickly spotted that the Club I favourite needed to do little to ensure a strong pace and shuffled back into a deeper position, closer to Fast Bid and Sunset Drive.

The Club horses keep a sensible distance away from the hot early pace travelling around the Clubhouse turn.

Patience was employed through the first half of the race, with only Highway Boss opting to edge a little closer to the leading pack who had combined to set a swift opening half mile of 47.45. Seeing some tiring horses in front of him, Dancer was urged on towards the conclusion of the backstretch, cruising into 2nd position by the head of the lane, while Romario unsuccessfully tried to get Fast Bid to replicate the move.

Dancer made a smart move to surge into second place and in the process recorded his best speed rating of the year.

Highway Boss was already taking advantage of the swift opening fractions to open a unsurmountable lead, which left Dancer battling (in vain) to hold off Sunset Drive who made a well timed late run, showing all of the fitness that you would expect from a horse who won the BC Cup Marathon last time out. Fast Bid crossed the line in sixth pace, part of the group that was a far way behind the top three finishers.

Shooting Jacket’s trainer Keith Pedersen was on hand to decorate the winning owners.

While we would have prefered to have seen dozens of victorious owners across the track for the win photo, Highway Boss was probably the best third option, given that he ran against Shooter on multiple occasions in Stakes company. We were very thankful that his final trainer, Keith Pedersen could make the time to head out to the winners circle to present the blanket to the winning connections, showing how much Shooter meant to the entire Racing Club team.

Fast Bid unsaddles after her first experience of the tight Hastings oval against some pretty strong company.

Looking back at the race it would have been a nice fairytale for one of our runners to win Shooter’s race, however Dancer ran his best race of the season, showing his eagerness to run late coming around the turn for home. Bidder was always likely to need a race to get used to how things are done at Hastings and we’ll hope that some more fillies and mares at her level are looking for a route race in the near future.

We’ll keep crossing our fingers for the first win of 2019, however the evening was a success in terms of turnout and managing to show the public the high regard in which the Racing Clubs hold it’s horses. There is no better feeling than knowing that your retired racehorse is going to move on to a safe new home and a productive second career and we know New Stride’s efforts are deeply appreciated by all the members.

Club Members fill the paddock for a pre-race photograph with Shooting Jacket’s retirement blanket.

Battle of Hastings

It has been just over two years since Club II’s Shooting Jacket took on Club I’s Square Dancer in the last rendition of what our dearly departed Club Manager, Richard Yates used to phrase the “Battle of Hastings”. With Monday’s entries we got confirmation of a renewal of the friendly rivalry as Square Dancer faces off against Club II debutant, Fast Bid. Dancer will be reunited with Richard Hamel who takes the reins from Scott Williams who has been out of action since a nasty fall a couple of weeks ago. Fast Bid will join forces with a familiar face to Club members, Romario Saunders.

Club II debutant, Fast Bid has settled in well in the Pat Jarvis barn and will get her first chance to test herself around the bullring.

With both entered into a $12,500 claiming event going long, handicappers will have their work cut out trying to decipher the plots and sub-plots that come with the 7 entrants. Both Absolutely Stylish and Highway Boss will need no introduction to Racing Club members, having faced Square Dancer earlier this year. Absolutely Stylish went on to face Stakes company after his June 16th win over Dancer and figures to be a very popular choice at the mutuel windows. Highway Boss has consistently been a step ahead of Dancer coming into their fourth meeting of the year, however last time out the Club I gelding did manage to finish only one place behind the North American Thoroughbred owned son of Street Boss.

Square Dancer was much improved last time out, hitting the board for the first time this season.

The new faces to consider begin at the rail with the entry of Patty Leany trained Imposing Cat, who enlists the riding services of Jose Asencio. It is worth noting that the son of Texas Wildcatter has been entered on both Friday and Monday, so isn’t certain to take the gate (Update – 08/16 – Imposing Cat has scratched from his Friday race, so will take his spot on Monday). Although sounding counter-intuitive, owners from both Clubs will likely be hoping that he opts to fulfill his Monday obligations as he has proven most effective on the front end and could be a useful asset in ensuring an honest pace is set by likely front runner Absolutely Stylish. Although he has a win and a second to his name in 2019, they both came in sprints and there will be questions about how ideal this distance is for him.

Already a winner this year, Imposing Cat looks to stretch out for the first time this year. (Picture Credit: @HastingsRaces).

In the four-hole is Patty’s other entrant, Heartset. The seven-year-old will be ridden by Amadeo Perez who returns to riding this weekend after being sidelined with injury since late July. As with his stable-mate, Heartset will be stepping up to 8.5 furlongs for the first time this year, however this appears to be a return to his favourite distance. A winner of one of the 2017 Marathon Series legs, Heartset has shown a consistent ability to act as a front-runner in these longer races, most recently displayed in his win over Sanawar at $16,000 to close out the 2018 season.

The final entrant to consider is the Barb Heads runner, Sunset Drive who comes into this race off his win in the BC Cup Marathon. Although run at slightly lower levels, the son of Sungold has filled every position in the trifecta in his 3 starts and is another who has shown a preference to be on, or close to the lead. He retains the services of Antonio Reyes who timed his ride perfectly in the Marathon to hold off a late charging He’s Got Ego.

Sunset Drive held on late to secure a BC Cup Marathon win on August 5th (Picture Credit: @HastingsRaces).

Both of our Club horses come into this race with differing expectations, however there will be a universal hope that the abundance of speed horses in this race leaves things wide open heading into the home stretch.

Square Dancer will be looking to build on his third place finish last time out and prove that now he is approaching mid-season form, can try to turn the tables on Highway Boss and Absolutely Stylish, who figure to be the top two picks in the market.

Fast Bid, on the other hand will be looking to get herself acquainted with the tight Hastings oval which can sometimes take horses a start or two after shipping to Vancouver. Trainer Pat Jarvis would have undoubtedly preferred a fillies and mares to have been on available, however a race against company that features 3 former stakes winners will give us an excellent idea of where she will fit in to the Hastings condition book going forward in the season.

Given the large numbers of Club Members we’ll be expecting on Monday, please get to the track as early as possible. We’ll have the program stand setup in advance of the first race, which goes at 6pm. Good luck both clubs!

Weekend Round-Up: August 5th, 2019

It was a packed BC Day at Hastings Racecourse and Club II members were out in force to see their favourite filly try to break her maiden in a respectable field of seven Maiden Special Weight entrants.

Warrior’s takes it all in stride as a bustling paddock looks on.

The most important note on the card was that our booked jockey – and Square Dancer regular rider, Scott Williams, could not pick up the mount following a nasty fall on Friday evening after the conclusion of the second race. When incidents like that occur it serves as a sobering reminder of the peril that all of our jockeys put themselves in when riding and the thoughts of both Racing Clubs are with Scott at this time.

In the absence of Scott, familiar face Sahin Civaci put on the red and white stripes making his first appearance this year at Hastings after a move to Woodbine for the 2019 season.

Breaking from the four-hole, Warrior’s Promise took a familiar stalking position as Reproach, Cha Ching and Spin a Tale all showed an interest in being involved in the early pace heading into the clubhouse turn. Although travelling comfortably into the bend, the Club II filly was forced four-wide by Nice Brown Girl, costing her a bit of ground and entered the backstretch in last place.

Passing the line for the first time, Warrior’s Promise sat mid-pack alongside Nice Brown Girl.

After settling her down, Sahin started pushing along, picking up a couple of places heading into the turn for home, looking a promising candidate to close down the leading trio of Butterscotch Blend, Cha Ching and Reproach.

The traffic problems seen earlier presented themselves again though, as with Suzy Mascara and Nice Brown Girl to her inside, she had to settle for a four-wide swing around the final bend. The width of the final bend looked to put a halt on her late charge and by time she was passing Reproach at the top of the stretch, the remaining two front runners were now a distant-looking two lengths ahead.

Cha Ching ended up holding off Butterscotch Blend by a neck to break her Maiden at the second time of asking, while Warrior’s sat a couple of lengths back from those two at the finish line.

Warrior’s sees off Reproach down the stretch but can’t mount a bit on the leading two.

As owners, it can be easy to look back at these races with rose-tinted spectacles, however upon re-watching Club II members may feel a little bit less disappointed than immediately after the race. Travelling four-wide around just one turn can cost a horse a couple of lengths at the wire and being stuck in this position on both turns of a sprint race at Hastings is tough to overcome. Considering the extra ground traveled this looks, on balance to be a similar race to those she has consistently ran this season.

Warrior’s passes the finish line after running out of room to mount a bit on the top two finishers.

We’ll check in with Patty over the next week to see how our girl came out of the race, but until then we’ll keep crossing our fingers that the stars eventually align and Warrior’s Promise can finally get the win photo she deserves.

Unsaddling after another solid effort from our Club II flag-bearer.

BC Bonanza

There are few events more prestigious on the racing calendar at Hastings Racecourse than BC Day and we’re thrilled that we’ll have some Club II involvement on the big day as Warrior’s Promise hits the oval on Renfrew.

After a commendable third place finish behind Summerland and Sunburst in the Supernaturel Handicap, our girl will get a little bit of class relief – being entered against six others in a Maiden Special Weight, which has a post time of 2:50pm. Running against a star filly can be a frustrating process and while WP has given a great account of herself, being able to utilise her Maiden status is a fantastic option to have.

The most important note on the program is that Scott Williams steps in to cover for regular rider, Jeff Burningham. Many at Hastings had a tear brought to their eye as Jeff made it to the track last Sunday as he continues to recover from a serious injury and the best wishes of both Racing Clubs continue to be with him.

Get well soon Jeff!

Drawn in the four hole, Warrior’s Promise has three familiar foes to her inside in the form of Suzy Mascara, Nice Brown Girl and Butterscotch Blend. All three ran in her June 15th race and are relatively well-known contestants in this category.

Occupying the outside three gates are some newer faces and likely pose the biggest threat to our runner’s Maiden breaking quest.

The five hole will be taken by Cha Ching, a Barb Heads trained daughter of Finality. Her third place finish on her July 7th debut has already shown that she belongs in this category, finishing only a length back from Solarity and now two time winner, Amazonian. Barb tends to have a patient approach with her runners, so the fact that she went so close to a first time score should be treated with a lot of respect. The only downside for her may be a lack of pace in this event, as she did make a late move from last to third on that occasion.

One spot wider will be Glen Todd’s $75,000 yearling purchase, Reproach. A half-sister to the $850,000 earning Untrapped, her pedigree offers reason enough to think that the daughter of Blame can improve on her career debut fourth place finish. Club members will likely spot a similarity to Northern Graystar who blew away the Maiden Optional Claimer that Warrior’s Promise dropped into on June 15th. Reproach’s workouts have not been short of speed and jockey Denny Valazquez has shown an ability to confidently guide frontrunners around the Hastings bullring, so don’t be surprised if she takes a “come and catch me” approach.

Rounding out the field will be Spin a Tale, making her season debut at Hastings for Alberta-based trainer Tim Rycroft. Fresh off a second place Maiden Special Weight finish at Century Mile on July 7th, the biggest question will be how the BC Maidens stack up against the Albertans. She will be assisted by the booking of Rigo Sarmiento who travels out to Hastings after a weekend of riding at his home track in Edmonton.

As for the chances for our Club II girl, members will be forgiven if they come into this race with a little bit more caution than they did for her previous Maiden race this season. On paper, if everyone runs to the level of their best previous race, Warrior’s Promise should be very strong, however as Northern Graystar showed last time, some smart riding and a young horse putting everything together can be a dangerous combination.

Reproach and Cha Ching appear to be the biggest threats and the projected pace scenario may benefit the former, should she wish to make all the running. Luckily, Warrior’s Promise has the speed to keep touch with most front runners if needed and plenty of stamina for the stretch, so we’ll be crossing out fingers that we’ll be able to enjoy the final 5 races of BC Day with smiles all around.

Please note that for BC Day the first post is 12:50pm, so make sure you adjust your race-day schedule accordingly. Club II members have been filling the paddock every time they’ve had a runner this year, so if you want to see your horse up close you’ll want to be there in good time to get your name on the list.

Happy BC Day!