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.

Going Long

Racing Clubbers of both persuasions will have some action as Square Dancer and Warrior’s Promise hit the track again this weekend, stretching out to longer distances than they faced last time. With the Friday Night Live racedays finished for the summer, Dancer will be on Saturday afternoon and Warrior’s Promise the following day.

Square Dancer

Dancer looks to have a great chance as he stretches out to the marathon distance.

In a race that Club I members will be all to familiar with, Dancer has been entered into a field of 6 for the second leg of BC Marathon Series, being ran over 11 furlongs. Retaining Richard Hamel on board, this will be Dancer’s longest trip to date, which should suit him well as he has always been one to enjoy longer distances and make late runs.

Installed as the 8/5 morning line favourite, Dancer should be well supported in the betting market, however on the rail will be Sanawar who made an impact on the first leg of the Marathon Series, when his late charge saw him finishing only a head behind Pioneerof the West. With a similar late closing running style to Dancer, this could end up being coming down to which of the two can get the trip the better, given that all horses at Hastings are unexposed at this one-off distance.

The front end will likely occupied by Paytons Best and Flemings Beach. Both have shown route speed before and we’ll be hoping that neither one will be afforded a long leash, as the biggest change of an upset in this race would be posed by a pedestrian pace on the front end.

Filling out the field will be a pair of winning machines who have proven very capable at the $4,000 level at Hastings this year. The only filly in the race, Mousey Mousey has been a revelation, rattling off 4 wins in her 8 starts – the most recent coming after jumping in class to a $7,500 claiming event at Emerald Downs. Cyclone Dan, fresh off a pair of wins at the $4,000 level will make his first start off the claim for new trainer Pat Jarvis and will be another looking for some pace to close into late.

Given everything that we know about Dancer, he fits into this field very well. Provided there is at least an honest pace on the head end club members will be hoping that he can improve on his last two third place finishes and get Club I off the mark for the year.

Warrior’s Promise

Warrior’s Promise takes on the boys in a tough allowance race.

The jump in class from maiden company to running against winners can be one of the biggest leaps a racehorse will make in their career, and indeed it appears to be that way for Club II’s Warrior’s Promise. After an electrifying win a couple of weeks ago, she will be stepping up to the route distance for an Allowance race (for non winners of three races) and slots into a field of seven fillies and geldings. Alex Marti, who has recently recovered from injury will pick up the ride as Amadeo Perez is down at Emerald Downs riding in Stakes races.

One to watch out for will be El Noble has been running consistently this year, finishing second best in three different allowance races and retains the services of leading jockey Enrique Gonzalez. Fourth in the BC Derby last year, distance is no problem for this son of Istan and given recent results his second career win must be a case of when, not if.

The other four-year-old will be Harry’s Hammer. Another winner of one, Harry’s Hammer has been a bit off form this year since his season debut that saw him dead-heat for second place. He will enlist the services of Romario Saunders as connections keep the faith and try to unlock his impressive 2018 form again.

The only other filly in the event will be Cha Ching, who will need to introduction to Club II owners. Although she has not raced since beating Warrior’s Promise into third on August 5th she looked like one that had the ability to stretch out to a longer distance and could a threat to notch up a win against the boys in a similar fashion that her stablemate Sunburst did earlier this year.

Fright Night is a winner of two who will slot to the inside of the 3 hole that Warrior’s Promise will occupy. Managing to benefit from the conditions of this race, the son of New Year’s Day actually beat a couple of this field last time out in a non-winners-of-two and will be a popular pick to repeat this feat with Richard Hamel retaining the ride.

One of those that Fright Night beat last time out is Dat Day. After a runners up finish in the River Rock Casino Handicap, the Craig MacPherson trainee has been running consistently all year, not finishing worse than fourth in the fie races since that effort.

Rounding out the field will be Finally Gottcha who will break from the rail under the benefit of a weight allowance from apprentice rider Lenny Seecharan. After fading late in a route allowance race a couple of starts ago there will be question-marks about the distance, however his two third place sprint finishes against similar opposition on either side of that race show that there is some quality lurking in the son of Gottcha Gold.

With such talent field of opponents, this will be an interesting learning experience for Club II members as they find out how their filly can handle some of the better winners on the grounds and also hope to get an indicator of whether she has as much ability going long as she does sprinting. Whatever the result, this race should give us a good indicator of how the season will conclude for our most successful Club horse for the year.

Weekend Round-Up: September 7th

Although thousands of eyes were glued to the scintillating stretch duel between Five Star General and Explode in the BC Derby, there were 200 racegoers just as interested in the nightcap for the big day.

Fast Bid, making her second appearance for Club II, looked to have found a much more suitable spot against $6,250 claiming fillies and mares and was installed as the second favourite by the wagering public in a competitive field of eight.

All smiles from Antonio who greeted the Club II crowd with enthusiasm in the paddock.

After a little apprehension last time out, Bidder was a professional in the paddock, being uneventfully united with her new rider – Antonio Reyes. Antonio has been having a stellar year and came into the race in excellent form, having made two trips to the winners circle on Friday evening.

Bidder and Antonio set off onto the track in relaxed fashion.

Out of the gate, Bidder broke well and moved up into second place, sitting a length off the expected early pacesetter, Veloso Raptor. Clubbers who have scouted out Fast Bid’s old races from California will know that this is not something she has been asked to do before and fortunately she looked more than willing to mix things up towards the head end.

Follow the leader. Bidder sits a length off the lead heading down the stretch for the first time.

Before the race we’d noted that despite the big field, there was a lack of obvious speed and indeed the race played out that way. Bidder was the closest to Veloso Raptor throughout the first half of the race, resulting in some quite comfortable fractions of 24.71 and 48.48.

After sitting in behind our mare for the early proceedings, Mori Girl made a move along the rail to briefly pass her at the conclusion of the back stretch. That move proved short lived though, as Antonio gave Bidder her cue around the turn for home and she quickly sprung back into second position.

Bidder stays on gamely for third down the lane.

Hitting the top of the lane, Veloso Raptor was enjoying the surplus of energy that an easy lead at Hastings will afford you and never saw her lead drop below two lengths all the way to the finish line, securing her second win of the season. Coming from deep in the pack, the betting favourite – Seeking Bull make a smart late move under Mario Gutierrez , which proved enough to bump a slightly tiring Bidder into third spot.

A solid showing for the Club II newcomer, who came back with significantly less mud on her face than in her Hastings debut.

The consensus after the race appeared to be one of satisfaction and many will have been happy to see Bidder hit the board, especially as she appears to have added sitting off the pace to her raceday arsenal. She appeared happy with herself during her post-race wash-down with groom Danny and we look forward to seeing her build on what will go down as a solid showing.

Smiles all around as Bidder cools off after the race.

Second Bid

After a lack of options in the condition book, Fast Bid failed to make an impact against a tough field of boys in her opening race of her Hastings Racecourse career. Thankfully a much more suitable option has come up – a $6,250 route race for fillies and mares. Carded as the tenth race on Saturday it is exciting that we’ll be able to have a runner on BC Derby Day, even if we are not competing for one of the main prizes.

Bidder looks to become the second Club II winner of the year after the maiden-breaking Warrior’s Promise got her win photo last Friday/

While this coming race may not have the Stakes winning form that her last one did, her nine competitors certainly do not lack experience and there are multiple 2019 winners over the 8.5 furlong distance. Bidder will team up with the experienced rider, Antonio Reyes, who will have an excellent idea of how the track is playing, given that he has a mount in every race on Saturday.

With the healthy sized field we’ll have a quick overview of each of the runners taking part on Saturday:

  • Don’t Tell Judy – ridden by Jose Gomez, the Jean Lavallee trained daughter of Rocky Bar has struggled to find her best stride this year. After an impressive 2018 that saw her make 4 visits to the winners circle, she has only one third from her eight starts in 2019 and that came in a sprint race.
  • Seven Chances – the Steve Henson trained Gotcha Gold filly has found a new lease of life since the middle of last year, in no small part to her connection with Jose Asencio. She already has a Hastings win this season over this distance at the $4,000 level and her consistent late running has seen her hit the board in all but two of her nine starts this year.
  • Storm Cruiser – as one of two entrants opting to buy down their weight (entering for a reduced $5,000 claiming price) will be further bolstered by apprentice jockey Learie Seecharan taking off a further seven pounds. Connections will be hoping that her significantly lighter weight, coupled with a quickly ran race will be enough for her to try to close into down the home stretch.
  • Seeking Bull – multiple Kentucky Derby winning jockey, Mario Gutierrez is back in town for Derby Day and will ride for Glen Todd. A winner last time out over this distance at $4,000, she will be another looking for a swift pace to run into at the business end of the race.
  • Expensive Taste – Richard Hamel will ride the daughter of Giant’s Causeway who is back from a three race stint at Century Mile. She has not hit the board since a pair of sprint wins to finish off her 2018 campaign and while relatively untested, is yet to hit the board at this distance.
  • Veloso Raptor – as one of the likely front-runners in this event, the J C Roque ridden son of Regal Ransom will benefit from any lack of action on the head-end. The distance will not be an issue and back on June 22nd led a field of $4,000 fillies and mares for the entirety of their 8.5 furlong event.
  • Bad and Bougie – ridden by Rigo Sarmiento, the Erick Gutierrez trainee has been the model of consistency this year. Hitting the board in all five starts and picking up a couple of wins she has raced through her conditions. The challenge to her today will be both the step up in claiming price and also tackling the route distance for the first time this year.
  • Commercial Appeal the ten time winner has already picked up a win photo this year going today’s distance. Although the length of the trip won’t be a problem, she is making the step up from $4,000 and she has a similar late closing style to quite a few others in this event.
  • Mori Girl – a distant sixth last time out in a sprint, Mori Girl will enjoy returning to the longer distance and the weight allowance afforded by apprentice Lenny Seecharan. Like others in this race, she already has a win at $4,000 at this trip this year and the biggest question will be how she can adjust to the tougher field.

After what could be discounted as a Hastings training race last time our for Bidder, it will be exciting to see how she compares with some of the most battle tested fillies and mares on the grounds. Although you are typically guaranteed a strong pace with a field of ten entrants, there do appear to be quite a few who prefer to leave their best move for late – including our Club II newcomer. We’ll be crossing our fingers that a couple of competitors decide to mix up their race tactics and ensure that we have a decent shot of passing some tiring front runners down the home stretch.

Bidder has been inserted as the 3/1 morning line favourite, however this is a hugely competitive race and the betting public may have their own ideas about who will be belle of the ball in this event.

We will have the program table set out nice and early before the first race and look forward to seeing a large contingent from both clubs at the track for the biggest day in our racing calendar.

Weekend Round-Up: August 30th

When not racing star three-year-olds in Stakes races, Warrior’s Promise has been drawing the short straw, finding soon-to-be-star fillies in the Maiden ranks. Friday night saw her take her third shot of the season against follow “never wons” in the form of a Maiden $50,000 Optional Claimer.

The field looked a touch softer than the other two Maiden races this year and with the raceday scratch of second favourite, Reproach, there was a cautious optimism that this may be the day for Club II owners to get their picture taken with their leading lady.

WP seemed to be interested by the change of scenery for her first Friday night race at Hastings.

Despite having blinkers on for the first time this year and the lights in the paddock going out shortly after the horses got there, Warrior’s took to her pre-race duties with typical calmness, her top lip chatting away to Jaymie as she was led around. Being united with new jockey Amadeo Perez, our filly headed off to the gate without event, along with the other five entrants.

Warrior’s Promise getting settled in the starting gate (thanks to Club Member, Myra for supplying this awesome unique perspective!).

Perhaps with flashbacks to Northern Graystar’s win against our filly earlier in the year, there was a consensus that our filly would hopefully break well and not afford a leader too much room. WP was perhaps half a step slower out of the gate than her rival to the outside – La Principessa, but showed a good turn of foot down the opening stretch to leave herself within a length of the early leader.

Amadeo, cool as a cucumber lets Warrior’s bask in her moment of glory as she passes the line. (Thanks to Michael Bye for this outstanding photo!).

Moving down the backstretch our filly was eager to get going, and as the turn for home approached, her reins were loosened a little and she glided past the second favourite. Travelling around the bend, all Amadeo had to do was have a look behind to see the distance opening up as she hit the stretch with a cozy four length lead.

Although the Club II crowd did more urging than Amadeo did down the stretch, she kept opening up, basking in the Friday night spotlight. The official chart pegs her margin of victory as 10 and 1/4 lengths ahead of La Principessa who held on gamely for second.

Amadeo did a fantastic job of getting to the paddock on time for his next race (which he also won!) after shaking hands with dozens of Club Members.

It was a mixture of excitement, with a touch of relief for Club II members after the race, who have seen their filly run some excellent races this year only to come up short against some top quality opposition. Seeing her win in such convincing style was great to see and although the pace setup perfectly for her she was more than eager to stretch her legs down the stretch and finish things in style.

Can horses smile? We’ll let WP be the decider of that one!

We would be amiss not to include a huge thank you to Patty, Jaymie and the crew in the barn, along with Amadeo who let her shine on Friday night. Also in our minds is her regular rider, Jeff Burningham who would have had one of the biggest smiles of all in the Winners Circle if not for his unfortunate injury earlier in the season.

Congratulations Club II, and onwards and upwards!

A midnight snack of hay, mixed in with handfuls of carrots from Patti’s secret stash were awaiting our girl after she got back to her stall.

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!