02/09/2012 1:33PM

Hastings: British Columbia Derby highlights meet's biggest card


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The Grade 3, $200,000 British Columbia Derby headlines six stakes totaling $600,000 on Sept. 9 and will clearly be the highlight of the 2012 Hastings season. The 71-day meet begins April 14 and finishes Oct. 14.

Hastings has scheduled 40 stakes races worth a total of $2.45 million, a slight drop from $2.5 million in 2011 when 41 stakes races were held.

There are no major changes to the schedule, and the small difference in money is attributed to the cancelation of the B.C. Cup Sprint on B.C. Cup Day, which will be held Aug. 6. The $75,000 B.C. Cup Classic for 3-year-olds and up heads six stakes races restricted to B.C.-breds on what has traditionally been the largest day in terms of handle and attendance since its inception in 1995.

That figures to change this year, however. The B.C. Derby card was bolstered in 2011 with five additional stakes, and it has been further enhanced this season. The $100,000 Jack Diamond Futurity for 2-year-old colts and geldings and $100,000 Sadie Diamond Futurity for 2-year-old fillies will replace both divisions of the $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes. Also, the 1 1/8-mile, $50,000 S.W. Randall Plate for 3-year-olds and up, and the $50,000 Delta Colleen for fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles will replace a couple of sprint stakes – the Derby Bar & Grill Express and the Derby Bar & Grill Ladies Express. The sprints will be run instead on Monday, Sept. 3. Both divisions of the Sales Stakes have been moved to Aug. 24.

Adding more luster to the Sept. 9 card is the $100,000 British Columbia Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.

“I am really looking forward to September 9,” Hastings general manager Raj Mutti said. “We made the card a lot stronger than it was last year, especially with the Jack and Sadie Diamond Futurities, and we are expecting it to be the biggest day of the year.”

The two other Grade 3 races at the meet, the $100,000 Premiers for 3-year-olds and up and the $100,000 Ballerina for fillies and mares, will be featured on Canadian Thanksgiving, Monday, Oct. 8. The Premiers regained its Grade 3 status after losing it last year.

Closing day will feature the $75,000 Ascot Graduation for 2-year-olds and the $75,000 Fantasy for 2-year-old fillies. Both races are at 1 1/16 miles and are the only middle-distance stakes for 2-year-olds at the meet.