03/05/2010 1:00AM

B.C. Derby tops Hastings stakes schedule

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The Grade 3, $200,000 British Columbia Derby will cap a weekend featuring eight stakes races totaling $650,000 at the 2010 Hastings meet. The B.C. Derby, the most important race at Hastings, is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 26. Also on the card is the $75,000 Ascot Graduation for 2-year-olds, plus a couple of $50,000 stakes for 3-year-olds and up: the six-furlong Derby Bar & Grill Express and the 1 1/8-mile Sir Winston Churchill.

Leading up to the B.C. Derby are four Saturday stakes, including the $100,000 British Columbia Oaks.

Hastings has scheduled 40 stakes races totaling $2,525,000 for the 71-day meet, which will begin April 24 and conclude on Canadian Thanksgiving, Oct. 11.

Last year, Hastings ran 41 stakes for a total of $2,665,000 over 74 days. The Boulevard, for 2-year-old fillies, and the River Rock Casino, for 2-year-olds, were dropped. The $50,000 Derby Bar & Grill Ladies Express, part of the B.C. Oaks card, was added.

The B.C. Derby has had its purse cut by $50,000, and the Oaks will be reduced by $25,000 this year.

The format of B.C. Cup Day, on Aug. 2, has reverted back to its original format, with all seven stakes races being restricted to B.C.-breds. Last year, B.C. Cup Day was part of the inaugural running of the Pacific Challenge and three of the races also were open to Washington-breds. Highlighting the B.C. Cup Day card is the $75,000 Classic for 3-year-olds and up.

The Grade 3, $120,000 Ballerina for fillies and mares and the Grade 3, $100,000 Premiers for males will complement each other on Oct. 9 and 10, respectively.

The $100,000 Sadie Diamond Futurity for 2-year-old fillies and the $100,000 Jack Diamond Futurity will close out the meet.