Hastings Racing Club 2023

The Hastings Racing Club is now open for registrations for our 2023 season – register your spot here!

Prince Cairo heads back to meet the Club Members after his 2022 Closing Day win win.

Following an exciting 2022 racing season at Hastings Racecourse, the Hastings Racing Club is now open for 2023 registrations. Known as the best value in Vancouver sports, the Hastings Racing Club allows members to become a part of thoroughbred racehorse ownership, at the fraction of the normal cost. For a one off fee of $300 you and 200 others take part in the horse ownership experience, watching your two horses train, progress and race throughout the April-October racing season.

All membership fees are used for the training and upkeep of the horses and the running of the Club, leaving any left over funds (including any prize money won by your horses!) being returned to the members at the end of the racing season. As a risk free, affordable way to experience owning your own thoroughbreds there is no better time to enjoy an experience which would previously be out of reach for many.

For the 2023 season, the Hastings Racing Club will be welcoming back two beloved faces – Prince Cairo and Racino who both had wins for the Club in 2022. As part of your membership you will sign up to become an officially licensed owner, which allows you access to the backstretch to watch morning training, meet your horse and with any luck, get to give your favourite new equine some treats after they find their way to the Winners’ Circle! Other benefits of being in the Club include free parking at the track, a raceday program when one of our horses are running and frequent updates about your horses are doing.

If you have any questions, please just drop us an email at hastingsracingclub@gmail.com and we’ll be happy to give you all the information about the Club and horse racing in Vancouver or you can register your spot here. See you in the Winners’ Circle!

On The Clock!

We had lots of workout action on May 29th, as Fast Bid, Warrior’s Promise and Marshall Swindle kept the clockers busy.

Things have slowly been building up at Hastings since the horses could return to training at the start of the month, and this last week saw the resumption of timed workouts. As a key step in getting the horses ready for the return to races, with the exception of our two-year-old, all of our horses have posted at least one workout so far. As the video above Fast Bid and Warrior’s Promise look particularly eager to get back to the races.

Fast Bid has an easy Sunday morning.

We are expecting racing to resume in around a month and seeing our horses in such good condition is a great sign that we’ll hit the ground running as soon as the season begins.

Although we’ve had a lot of interest in the last week, we do still have spaces left, and given the lack of sporting options available at the moment, $300 for membership in the Hastings Racing Club must offer some of the best entertainment value in the whole of Vancouver! If you’re interested in joining the Club for 2020, please just drop us an email at hastingsracingclubs@gmail.com!

Pre Season Training 2.0

Now that we have all of our horses back at the track, excitement about a return to racing has really stepped up a notch. The horses being able to head back out to the oval has had a real “first day of school” feel to it and as Fast Bid shows in the video above, no one is more excited to get back to work than our equine athletes. She stretched her legs over 2 furlongs this morning (Wednesday) and continues to look in good shape.

Square Dancer went for a workout on Sunday under the expert care of jockey Scott Williams. As usual, Dancer would have preferred to continue running until sundown, but still came back to his stall happy after the chance to get the blood pumping. We would be amiss not to give Scott a big Racing Club welcome back. The pair have hit the track together on race day many times and after he missed the second half of last season it was great to see his trademark smile back atop the Racing Club’s stalwart.

On the other end of the experience spectrum, two-year-old Richard’s Command got to tackle the track for the first time. Our newest addition to the Club will be trained by Keith Pedersen, who will be a familiar face to Club members after he trained Shooting Jacket to a clean sweep of the 2018 Marathon Series. Keith reports that the filly has taken to the backstretch as if she has been here all her life. Given the steep learning curve involved in training the younger horses, this is a positive start and we’ll keep checking in as she continues the process of becoming a racehorse.

To sign off, we have a bit of a treat to share with you. Although there has been ample excitement about getting back to the track, we got an interesting look back at what the last month away from Hastings has meant for some of our horses. We received the video below (courtesy of trainer Mark Cloutier who we owe a great deal of thanks to) which shows how some of our horses were keeping in shape in the picturesque Fraser Valley. Most excitingly, this gives us our first chance to see Richard’s Command under saddle and also check in with Marshall Swindle, who is working towards a Hastings Racing Club debut.

Thanks for all the messages from members who are sharing our excitement that the horses are back! We’ll be in touch soon with more updates and in the meantime we may have some “extras” posted to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages between emails, so if you do use those websites, please give us a follow!

Back To The Track

Bidder enjoys her first morning back at the track!

Industry Update

Firstly, and most importantly we hope that you are all in good health and even better spirits. It has felt like the last two months have taken two years to pass, but as BC “flattens the curve”, good news is starting to appear across society – luckily for us, including at Hastings Racecourse.

It had been announced last week that the backstretch was reopening to horses and over the last few days details of training protocols have been released, which means we were in a position to bring all of our horses back to the track which is underway as we speak. There have also been preliminary indications from the HBPA that a return to racing may be possible in early July. There is no official confirmation of this yet, but we’re all in the need of positive news so wanted to pass things along.

Our Horses

From talking to the trainers (and from the pictures below), they are very happy with the condition the horses are returning in after their farm training. Dancer hit the track for the first time at Hastings on Saturday morning and in typical fashion, was eager to run for as long as galloper Robbie would let him. Even during a pandemic, some things never change. Dancer may work out on Sunday morning, although official timed workouts aren’t scheduled to begin until the end of the month.

Among the horses arriving at the track was Richard’s Command, our two-year-old filly who arrived at Hastings for the first time. Perhaps the least impacted of our horses so far (given the two-year-olds don’t start racing until mid-summer anyway), she is going to be hitting the track on Sunday morning for her first look at the bullring.

This Summer

As it was before the horses moved out, the backstretch is restricted to essential personnel only. This does mean that owners, jockeys agents and guests are not permitted to the backstretch at this time. We know that visiting the backstretch is one of the biggest benefits of the Racing Club, but naturally at this time everyone is all hands on deck, ensuring we do our bit to create an environment where racing can safely resume.

As mentioned above, there are no official plans released for a return to racing yet, however at the Club we are having discussions about how to navigate this year. There is a good chance that when racing resumes, that it is behind closed doors, meaning no spectators are permitted. If this is the case we will put into place as much as we possibly can to keep all of you in the loop. We’re still planning things, but this may take the form of a virtual orientation session and live behind the scenes videos from the track on racedays so even when if you’re watching a race from home, we can still take you into the paddock (and hopefully the winners circle!).

We received a lot of communication from members voicing and offering their support for the industry and the workers at Hastings, which was incredibly touching. As plans for racing are created, we may well be in the situation where Hastings is the only sporting action happening in Vancouver for the foreseeable future. If you have any friends who are feeling the boredom of physical distancing please do let them know about the track and the Racing Club, as it may be the perfect antidote to brighten up someone’s summer.

With the above in mind, if you still need to return your membership agreement/fees please touch base with us as soon as possible at hastingsracingclubs@gmail.com as we are looking to get our membership list firmed up so we know how many spots we have left to offer new members.

Thank You

We will sign off with some special mentions. The last couple of months have been turbulent times for everyone on the backstretch and our deepest thanks go out to the trainers, the horsemen who temporarily lost their jobs, the farms (and all of their staff) for taking our horses in at short notice and those who have been working behind the scenes to get a return to racing framework created. I know we all offer our thanks for them coming back in such good racing shape and most importantly, for keeping them safe.

Finally, but certainly not the least, we have the news to pass along that Nigel is going to be taking a step back from co-managing the Racing Club this year to focus on the many other hats he wears at Hastings. His experience and energy was a big asset last year as we tried to keep the show on the road after Richard’s passing and I know that we all would want to extend our warmest thanks. If anyone would like to touch base with him personally, he provides excellent commentary on BC and international horse racing on Twitter and also has a website https://www.nigelreidracing.com/ where he has all his contact information.

2020 Launch

There is nothing quite like a Hastings Racing Club winners picture!

We are delighted to announce that we are now open for pre-registration for the Hastings Racing Club 2020. Returning and new members alike are welcome to join what promises to be one of the most exciting seasons yet!

For 2020 we are combining what were formerly Club I and Club II to create one entity – with an annual no-risk fee of $300, making this one of the most affordable entertainment options in the Lower Mainland. As in previous seasons, after paying for the costs for keeping and training the horses any net proceeds are returned to the Club Members so everyone involved gets all the thrill of thoroughbred horse ownership without and of the financial risk.

The admiration shown to our horses by Club Members is only matched by the fantastic people who keep them safe and happy year round.

The Hastings Racing Club offers a fantastic opportunity for racetrack regulars and newcomers alike to learn about the exciting world of racing and meet the horses and all of their dedicated trainers and grooms who care for them every day. We will be going into the season with a barn of five horses who we will be profiling over the next few weeks (although a former Horse of the Year like Square Dancer barely needs an introduction!).

Agreements will be ready in the next couple of weeks, however anyone looking to get their name on the wait list can follow this link and express their interest now to ensure that we give you the right of first refusal!

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.

Weekend Round-Up: September 14th and 15th

Square Dancer

Taking part in the second leg of the Marathon Series, Square Dancer came into this race off the back of a couple of respectable third place finishes. Retaining Richard Hamel, Dancer was sent off as the narrow favourite by the betting public and showed typical calmness in an uneventful paddocking and post-parade.

Breaking well, and with the anticipation of a lack of speed in the race the Club I stalwart was placed six lengths off the early pace, which was set by Payton’s Best and tracked by Mousey Mousey in second. As is often the case in these races, there was little significant change throughout the opening circuit, with all of the jockeys being mindful to leave their mount with enough gas in the tank at the end of the 11 furlong trip.

As the pack passed the finish line for the second time the room afforded to Payton’s Best had been reduced to a length, while Mousey Mousey slowly began dropping back, leaving Dancer in prime striking position.

Dancer driving down the lane to hold off the advance of Cyclone Dan. Thanks to Club Member, Irvin for supplying the image.

Coming around the turn for home, the race sprung into life. Dancer breezed past a tiring Payton’s Best, with Sanawar and Cyclone Dan rallying to the outside. As the grueling stretch drive progressed, Cyclone Dan had the most left in his tank and began inching away at Dancer’s lead, however Dancer gamely stuck to his task and held off the challenger by a neck to secure the win.

Cold, wet and ecstatic racehorse owners! (Picture courtesy of Hastings).

Credit goes out to the Club I members who braved the poor weather to cheer on their hard-knocking champion and were treated to a trademark Hamel victory cheer as Dancer was welcomed back to the paddock.

Richard Hamel leads a cheer with the Club I winners circle. Thanks to Club Member, Austin for this great picture!

Warrior’s Promise

With her maiden status laid to waste in her last outing, Warrior’s Promise looked to repeat the feat going long against a tough Allowance field of “never won three” fillies and geldings.

WP, in buoyant mood, strikes a pose for the crowd.

Teaming up with jockey, Alex Marti for the first time, our Club II filly looked in good order while paddocking, looking like a horse who knew the commanding fashion she had dispatched her last group of rivals with.

A reassuring pat for our filly at the conclusion of the post-parade.

After coming out of the gate well, Warrior’s was sent toward the front of the pack, sitting off of the early pacesetter, Finally Gotcha. In a deviation from tactics earlier this year, this type of trip appeared to suit her well last time out at the sprint distance, so the repeat plan was no surprise for Club Members.

WP sits a length of the early pace while passing the tote board for the first time.

Heading into the clubhouse turn, Alex tried to save some ground and tuck her in behind the pacesetter along the rail, while El Noble moved alongside to inch into second place.

Whether it was the ground or the kickback that affected our filly, she didn’t appear to be travelling very well and as the pace quickened she quickly lost places, leaving Alex to swing her to the outside as the stretch commenced. Alex accepted that her chance of a placing were over and took care of her down the stretch.

Alex, Jaymie and and WP head back to get cleaned up after a sobering result.

After the elation of her win, it was not the follow up performance that Club II members would have been wishing for. Patti did report that our filly looked well after coming back to the barn, so this may be one that we need to forgot about as quickly as possible and give her another chance to prove that she can put her best foot forward against winners.

Extra Extra! Hastings Round-Up by Nigel Reid

With the Derby Bar and Grill Newsletter on it’s annual “Keeneland Yearling Sale Summer Vacation”, a few club members may have been drinking their morning coffee with a lack of suitable reading literature. Fear not – here is the Round-Up for yesterday’s huge day for Club I.

Hastings Round-Up: September 14th

Dancer dries damp spirits with Marathon win

by Nigel Reid

The seemingly early onset of the autumn monsoon season failed to dampen the spirits of a small army of Hastings Racing Club horse owners, all intent on cheering their pride and joy home in the second leg of the Hastings Marathon Series.

Now a battle-hardened nine-year-old, Square Dancer has retained his enthusiasm under the consummate handling of trainer Steve Henson, even if it did appear earlier in the season as though the war horse’s powers may be slightly on the wane.

However, underestimate the old fellow at your peril was the message when, after joining forces with another campaign veteran in Richard Hamel, the wily pair saw off a tough group to take the lion’s share of the $16,000 purse on offer for the second leg of the Marathon Series.

What a servant Square Dancer has been. His neck win on Saturday may have been his first since July 2018, but it was his eleventh in a 52-race career and made a mockery of the concerns anyone had that he might not enjoy the rain-soaked surface or the 11-furlong distance. Hell or high water is all the same to “The Dancer” and he was cheered rapturously upon his return to a winner’s circle filled to the brim by Hastings Racing Club I members.

A super shot of Dancer, taken by track photographer Patti Tubbs.

Syndicate, or group, ownership in all sizes is the future of our sport, and it was good to see another bunch of friends, albeit a slightly smaller crew than the Hastings Racing Club army, land the second race of the afternoon.

Cape Lite was making her first start for her new connections since they shrewdly claimed her last month. Now owned by Mark Freeman’s Renfrew Racing III and trained by David Milburn, the daughter of Cape Blanco has demonstrated real consistency this season for her previous trainer Craig MacPherson, hitting the board in all but her first run.

Ridden in the $8,000 claimer by lightweight apprentice Lenny Seecharan (which allowed connections to reduce her weight and claiming price down to $7,000), Cape Lite was settled near the lead early before moving to challenge running into the far turn. Rousted along two wide by Seecharan, the filly had too much for her rivals and handling the conditions best, was pulling away at the line to win by a comfy length-and-three-quarters.

Cape Lite was a second winner of the afternoon for Seecharan after he steered Sea Cadet to victory in the opener, a $4,000 claiming contest over six-and-a-half furlongs.

Owned by the Rocking Bar B outfit and trained (and bred) by Frank Barroby, the three-year-old Numaany gelding made a decisive move entering the far turn and just had enough to see off the late-driving P S Charlie Brown.

Seecharan’s excellent double was overshadowed by a treble for leading rider Amadeo Perez. The first came in the six-and-a-half furlong maiden claimer event for juveniles where, riding Walkinthewalk for Mark Cloutier and Canmor Farms, he eventually got the better of Queen’s Park after a furious stretch duel.

Queen’s Park, who finished third in last month’s $50,000 CTHS Sales Stake, had taken Walkinthewalk on from the outset. Together, the pair drew right away from their rivals in what looked, superficially at least, to be an above average event.

By the freshman sire Danza, Walkinthewalk was another winning graduate of the CTHS Horse of Racing Age Sale back in March, where she was knocked down to Canmor’s Ole Nielson for $15,000, and is one of four recent winners to have passed through the auction.

Both Queen’s Park and Walkinthewalk had bumped into the young superstar Infinite Patience on previous outings and their impressive display on Saturday has done nothing but frank the form of the best juvenile seen at Hastings in 2019.

The next race on the card was also a juvenile contest; this one a maiden optional claimer over six-and-a-half furlongs that threw up another impressive performer in the shape of RJ and Lois Bennett’s homebred, Synergy.

Trained by Barb Heads, Synergy was among the best moving youngsters in the paddock prior to the $20,000 heat and confirmed that impression with an eye-catching win on just his second ever start.

Like so many of his progeny seem to, the Sungold gelding was doing all his best work at the business end, running on with real purpose to neutralize the gap to Gottcha Cowboy in a matter of strides, before powering away to win gearing down under a cute ride by Antonio Reyes.

The ongoing four-way battle for leading rider honors continues to go back and forth with each passing race and, not content to watch Reyes move ahead of him, Amadeo Perez took the final two races of an increasingly wet afternoon.

The first came aboard Stevie’s Song in a $4,000 claiming contest for trainer Mark Cloutier and owners, Roy and Dixie Jacobson and Toni Cloutier.

Yet another winner for the BC sire Storm Victory, Stevie’s Song has been knocking on the gate to the winner’s circle all season, with three seconds and a third from his previous five runs. Such consistency, the Holy Grail of equine attributes, had obviously alerted the backstretch however, and the three-year-old was snagged at the claims box after the race and will now join trainer Demetris Topouzis for owners MJD Stables.

Perez then struck again in the nightcap, taking the $8,000 claimer aboard The Odds R Good for trainer Mel Snow and his fellow owners, Don Danard and Rob McKellar. Breaking sharply, the distinctive seven-year-old grey seemed to relish the sloppy track, bounding his way to a gate-to-wire victory that was his first of the season, but tenth overall and third on an off surface.

Predictably, the intermittent downpours did little to help the on-track handle – the just more than $56,000 coming in around $10,000 lower than 12 months ago. The off-track figure held up well when compared to 2018 and, at a shade above $265,000, was even a little ahead of last year.