01/29/2004 1:00AM

45 stakes on tap worth $2.6 million


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Hastings 2004 stakes schedule was released Thursday morning and will consist of 45 stakes worth a total of $2.6 million. There are no major changes in the schedule from last year.

The highlights of the meet remain the $250,000 British Columbia Derby, Sept. 26, and B.C. Cup Day, Aug. 2. The B.C. Cup has seven stakes scheduled with purses totaling over $365,000.

Minor changes include raising four 2-year-old stakes to $40,000, which now becomes the minimum stakes purse at Hastings. Also the Ascot Graduation will carry a $20,000 bonus for fillies that want to tackle colts and geldings.

The B.C. Derby has been downgraded to Grade 3 status.

Other major races on the schedule are the $150,000 B.C. Breeders' Cup Oaks, Sept. 25; The $100,000 Lt. Governor's, July 1; The $100,000 Premiers, Oct. 17; and the $150,000 Ballerina Breeders' Cup, Oct. 16.

The Hastings meet begins on April 17 and wraps up Nov. 28.