Weekend Round-Up: October 27th

As the sun set on the Hastings racing season, Club II had one final chance to get into the winner’s circle with Fast Bid. Entered into a $6,250 Claiming race over a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth, the field was reduced to four as Playland Pixie was a morning scratch.

Bidder and Romario have their game races on in the paddock.

After showing some excitement in her previous start, Bidder took to the paddock well, displaying signs of being used to her new surroundings in Vancouver and was re-united with jockey Romario Saunders before taking to the track. 

Breaking down the backstretch, Bidder slotted in third position during the early proceedings as Mousey Mousey and Mori Girl dueled for the lead. Seeing the action ahead, Bidder was very eager to get going, causing Romario to try to hold her back and settle her down down the grandstand stretch for the first time. 

Bidder is urged to calm things down passing the tote board for the first time.

Following the Clubhouse turn, the hold on her was loosened and she started to engage with the front runners, pulling level at the head of the pack with Mousey Mousey. By time the turn for home came though, it appeared that her early keenness had burnt too much of her energy and she dropped back into last place as the other contestants battled down the stretch, with Ourevelady getting her nose over the line first.

Bidder trails the leading trio as the business portion of the race commences.

With Club members seeing the shorter field, it obviously wasn’t the end for the season that we had hoped for. That said, she finishes the year in good condition and it has been good to see her settle into life at Hastings after previously enjoying the California sun for the last two years.

Our thanks continue to go out to trainer Pat Jarvis and her team who’ve made Club Members feel like family in her barn and have navigated some tricky condition book restrictions to get our mare to the track so many times.

Time for a backstretch wash-down and to begin thinking about a well earned winter break.

Weekend Round-Up: October 13th/14th

Square Dancer

Dancer takes it all in before the race.

After a big effort to hold off Cyclone Dan in the second leg of the Marathon Series, Square Dancer took to the track as the morning line favourite for a competitive series finale. A last minute jockey change saw Enrique Gonzalez pick up the mount who made his Racing Clubs riding debut.

Enrique Gonzalez was all smiles meeting the Club I faithful in the paddock.

After a typically uneventful post-parade Dancer showed that old horses can, unfortunately in this case, learn new tricks. Ducking out of the inside gate, Dancer went perilously close to the rail and did well to recover and join the pack heading down the grandstand stretch for the first time.

Dancer hustled along to recover the lost ground after his swerve out of the gate.

Once settled Dancer was eager to try and join Absolutely Stylish, who had an unchallenged early lead. It was a tough assignment for Enrique to step in and ride given the relatively small field and nuances of the mile-and-a-half distance. His approach of sitting close enough to the leader to try to force an honest pace was likely the only way that Dancer could make it two wins in two.

Absolutely Stylish cruises to victory with Dancer the safest of second placed finishers.

Dancer was kept in a stalking position for much of the race, leaving the door open to try to make a late bid for the wire coming around the turn for home. Unfortunately the lack of pace on the head end had given Absolutely Stylish enough in the tank to come down the stretch comfortably, holding Dancer off by over four lengths. It was very much a two horse race, with another seven behind Dancer until third placed He’s Got Ego.

Dancer passes the finish line in good order after being unable to overcome Absolutely Stylish’s soft lead.

While we all hoped to see another win photo for Dancer, there was likely no change of tactics that would have made any difference to Sunday’s outcome given the quality of the pacesetting winner.

It has been a joy to watch him back to his normal competitive self in the last few races after fighting to get his race fitness up at the start of the season. The full paddock (on Thanksgiving Sunday, no less) showed just how much he continues to mean to the Club members.

Fast Bid

After entering route races that failed to fill, Fast Bid finally got her third Club II race in an eight runner sprint event at the $6,250 claiming level. Although not an optimal distance, Bidder had surprised a few will her ability to sit off the pace last time out, so Club members were crossing their fingers that her versatility would again be on display.

An eager Bidder can’t wait to get out onto the track.

Bidder has been ready to run for a while now, and there were early signs that she was ready to run when united with Romario Saunders in the paddock. In the early portion of the race, Bidder was again eager to get going, requiring Romario to take a firm hold of her going around the Clubhouse turn to prevent her pressing the leaders in a four-wide position.

Bidder wrestles with Romario leading into the clubhouse turn.

When Bidder settled into fifth spot down the back stretch she looked to be moving into a good position to try and make an assault on the leading pack. Although momentarily edging her nose into third place at the top of the home stretch, the early eagerness had perhaps caused a bit of tiredness and although she finished the race gamely, didn’t have enough in the tank to hit the top three. The win photo went to the ultra-consistent Mousey Mousey who notched up her fifth win in 2019 and perhaps the Lower Level Claiming Horse of the year title at the same time.

Romario tries his best to urge Bidder into third place.

Given her trip there may have been little possibility of a much better placing, but Clubbers will come out of the race knowing that with a better draw their filly appears perfectly able to compete with the hard knocking sprint mares at Hastings.

The Last Leg

Square Dancer

After a gutsy effort down the stretch, Square Dancer picked up his first win of the year last time out, holding off a fast closing Cyclone Dan in the second leg of the Marathon Series. Both will return for the series finale on Sunday, with a few new faces making this a riveting event.

The Phil Hall trained Absolutely Stylish needs little introduction to Club Members after going gate to wire in Dancer’s first start of the year. Typically taking a leading position, any lack of pace will play into the hands of the son of Uncle Mo and while his form has been on a decline he has obvious class when loose on a lead.

The antithesis to the Hall entrant will be Pat Jarvis’ class dropping He’s Got Ego. Calling the five-year-old a late closer would perhaps be an understatement, given the large amount of distance he likes to give the leading pack before unleashing his trademark surge down the stretch. Although he hasn’t picked up a win this season he has had three seconds, including the BC Cup Marathon where his late bid came short by only a neck.

The final newcomer will be Will to Gold who slots in as the 15/1 morning line outsider who will be looking to replicate a well timed late run to win at the $4,000 non-winners-of-two level last time out.

Returning from the second leg of the Marathon Series will be the second and third placed Cyclone Dan and Sanawar who are both known threats over this distance and both showed enough in defeat to come back at the longer distance.

As is often the case in these marathon races, this will likely be a real rider’s event, with the mile-and-a-half trip being a tough one to judge, especially with the vast difference in running styles between the entrants.

Richard Hamel gave Dancer a well-judged ride last time out, which will be a cause of optimism for Club members who will remember the importance of Aaron Gryder’s marathon masterclass when riding Shooting Jacket last year. Hamel’s experience will be put to the test when trying to balance keeping close enough to Absolutely Stylish to prevent him running off with the race, while leaving enough in the tank to repel the inevitable late kick from Cyclone Dan and He’s Got Ego.

Fast Bid

After being ready to run for the last couple of weeks and entering races that failed to fill, Fast Bid will be going sprinting for the first time at Hastings. While a longer trip would no doubt be preferred, Bidder’s willingness to break with her usual tactics and deploy a close-to-the-action running style last time out had Clubbers lauding her versatility, so we will be crossing out fingers she can repeat the trick on Monday. Romario Saunder is booked to ride after being her jockey in her Hastings debut.

As is often the case with these non-winners-of-four races at Hastings there is a battle tested field entered against her, headlined by G M T Baby, Tattooed Kitty and Mousey Mousey. Bidder will take the outside gate and will be up against quite a few new faces to Club Members:

  1. Expensive Taste – after scratching out of Bidder’s last race, jockey Richard Hamel will be hoping that the almost three month layoff does not hamper his mount’s chances. She has proven a threat at this distance already though after finishing 2018 with a pair of sprint wins.
  2. Mousey Mousey – last seen taking on Square Dancer et al. in the second leg of the Marathon Series – fitness should be no challenge for the Rob Gilker trainee. She has been a formidable competitor at the $4,000 level this year and will be looking for her fifth 2019 victory.
  3. Tattooed Kitty – an obvious candidate for a win photo will be the Phil Hall trained daughter of Wildcar Heir. After coming second to Yes Please in the August 26th offering of this race she won’t need much improvement to add to the one win she has picked up this year.
  4. Wild Wilko – the 20/1 morning line outsider will make her Hastings career debut after a 2019 campaign at Emerald Downs which saw her pick up two wins earlier in the year. The first race around our bullring can be a steep learn curve, so may need this race for a bit of experience.
  5. Ourevelady – after an off the pace win last time out at the $4,000 level, Ourevelady has picked up three wins this year and with the apprentice weight allowance afforded by Lenny Seecharan will be the joint lightest in this race at 113 pounds.
  6. G M T Baby – the daughter of Shrug has put together a solid three-year-old campaign running at a higher level in races restricted sophomore races. Last time out she took the step into open age category for $8,000 and ran out the winner by a length, so this slight step down in class should make her a tough competitor on Monday.
  7. Bad and Bougie – this Erick Gutierrez trained four-year-old is another who has notched up a couple of wins this year (albeit earlier in the year while still running in Phil Hall’s barn). Having hit the board in all but one of her races this year, she always factors to give her best effort and may offer a honest wagering option should she go off at a similar price to her 8/1 morning line.

This is a wide open race which will have the late pick 4 players scratching their heads as they try to figure out where a Washington State shipper and two consistent three-year-olds will figure in the proceedings.

Given the shorter trip, Club members will probably be hoping to hit the board, rather than be expecting a win. How she fares sprinting will be interesting to watch and if nothing else Bidder has already shown how resilient she can be, so we’ll be crossing our fingers that she can round off the weekend with another impressive performance.