08/21/2002 11:00PM

Fridays cut from Hastings' schedule

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Hastings Park has canceled the last four Friday nights of the meet, beginning with Aug. 23. Manag-ement cited lack of business on the four previous Friday nights for the decision.

On Aug. 16, the last Friday card, only $367,770 was bet on the seven races.

"The decision was made with the long-term view of providing our customers, both here and through our distribution channels, a quality product every time we race," said Phil Heard, president of Hastings Entertainment Inc.

Heard also said that if Hastings were to continue to race on Fridays the recent purse increase might be in jeopardy.

Although there will be no more Friday racing, the meet could be extended for eight racing days, to Dec. 1. As of now the last racing day is scheduled for Nov. 3. The additional eight days would mean a net increase of four days to the meet.

Heard said he is considering adding the extra days, but isn't sure if there are enough horses to fill race cards of reasonable quality.

This week he sent racing secretary Debbie Peebles to Emerald Downs to see if horsemen there would be willing to ship up in November. Peebles also is headed to Northlands Park this weekend.

"Right now we're evaluating the whole situation," said Heard.

He also said that Emerald Downs, which closes its meet Sept. 16, would be willing to keep its backstretch open if Hastings would pay some of the costs.

"Ron Crockett [Emerald Downs president] told me that he would give me the figures this weekend," Heard said. "If there's enough horses willing to ship up from there and the costs are reasonable, we might be able to work something out."

Mel Snow, president of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, said he was disappointed that the Fridays were eliminated but is hopeful the extra days would be added.

"The Fridays weren't working, so they want to go back to running a lot of races on the weekends," said Snow. "I support their decision but I'm not sure they gave Fridays their best shot. Last Friday's card had five maiden

2-year-old races, and not many people would be very interested in that."

Cooperation between management and horsemen has been strong since the Woodbine Entertainment Group, which owns Hastings Entertainment Inc., took over the running of Hastings Park in May. That might change if Hastings Park management doesn't agree to apply for the extra days.

According to Snow, there is an agreement with Fraser Downs, the Standardbred track that controls the winter racing dates, that would allow Hastings to race on the extra days, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

"If the track doesn't decide to run those days I'll be very upset," said Snow.

Safe landing

The three riders who came off their mounts when Zaskar broke down in last Saturday's eighth race were not seriously injured. Ruben Solis and Anthony Stephen rode again on Sunday and leading rider Pedro Alvarado has been working horses this week and will ride again Saturday.

Alvarado flew about 30 feet in the air when he was flung from Marie Marie, who fell over Zaskar.

"I had enough time to think about it when I was in the air so I knew I must have flown a long way," said Alvarado.

Replacement riders

With Frank Fuentes, Fernando Serna, and apprentice Nicola Wright heading to Emerald Downs to ride in the Longacres Mile and Emerald Downs Breeders' Cup Distaff this Sunday, Hastings Park management opted to fly in three riders from Alberta to take their place.

"We're just lucky that they aren't racing at Northlands this Sunday," said racing secretary Debbie Peebles.

Hastings will pay the airfare and accommodations for Chris McGregor, Quincy Welch, and Richard Hamel.

"We only had eight riders left in the room, and if we filled an

11-horse field I don't want to be the one to tell the trainers that they can't run because they don't have a rider," said Peebles.

Early test for Raglan Road

Raglan Road should be a solid choice over seven other 2-year-olds in the $35,000 New Westminister Stakes Saturday. Robert Costigan paid $100,000 for Raglan Road, an El Prado colt, at the Ocala Breeders' sale last April, and he looked like he was worth every cent of it as he just cruised to an easy win in his debut Aug. 3 at 3 1/2 furlongs. He's had a couple of decent five-furlong works since then, but his trainer, Kathy Bremner, would have liked to have done more with him before his first try in stakes company.

"I would like to have at least one more work into him and optimally it would be nice to have two," she said. "But the time frame doesn't allow for it and hopefully he'll be tight enough."

Bremner said this will be Raglan Road's last start at Hastings this year.

"I'm not sure if he'll run at Emerald or Woodbine, but all the rest of the stakes for 2-year-olds here are restricted until the Ascot Graduation on Oct. 27," she said. "So we'll have to go somewhere else."