04/12/2012 12:23PM

Hastings: Delay in adding Friday racing should help field size


Racing director Paul Ryneveld was pleased with entries for the first weekend of racing at Hastings. The 71-day meet opens Saturday with eight races. Post time for the first race is 1:50 p.m. Pacific.

“I thought we might get a few more horses in some of the categories but the types of races that went and the quality of racing for the weekend is a good way to kick off the season,” said Ryneveld.

Turf Paradise Derby winner Taylors Deal heads a $29,000 allowance race for 3-year-olds that drew six horses Saturday. Sunday’s $50,000 George Royal for 3-year-olds and up attracted an overflow field of 12. Because of the short run to the first turn in six-furlong races only 10 horses will be allowed to start.

Hastings isn’t immune to the horse shortage facing every track on the West Coast and management made a scheduling change to help improve the average field size that registered 7.22 last year. Instead of starting Friday night racing on the second weekend, the first Friday card this year will be May 25. The meet will run a couple of weeks longer until Oct. 14. Post time on Fridays will be 7 p.m.

“Not having to go into a three-day week right off the bat is going to be huge,” said Ryneveld. “We could only run seven races each day over the second weekend [last year] so right away we’re going to have better racing.”

The takeout for the daily double and pick three has been reduced to 15 percent, which is the same as all the multiple-race wagers at Hastings. The pick five will not have a consolation payoff and will feature a 100 percent carryover.

Purses have been budgeted for $136,000 a day, which includes 40 stakes totaling $2.5 million.

The Grade 3, $200,000 British Columbia Derby headlines six stakes totaling $600,000 on Sept. 9.

B.C. Cup Day, traditionally the largest day of the meet, is set for Aug. 6.

The Grade 3, $100,000 Premiers, for 3-year-olds and up, and the Grade 3, $100,000 Ballerina, for fillies and mares, will be featured on Canadian Thanksgiving, Oct. 8.

Troy Taylor, backed by Sovereign Award-winning owners Glen Todd and Patrick Kinsella, will be an overwhelming favorite to win his sixth training title in a row.

Richard Hamel will try to lead the jockey standings for the third year in a row. Not returning is Mario Gutierrez, who is now based in Southern California. Gutierrez will be closely followed at Hastings as he tries to cap off a storybook ending when he rides Santa Anita Derby winner I’ll Have Another in the Kentucky Derby.

There will be a moment of silence before the first race Saturday to remember Shauna Ferguson, who was killed in a training accident last Monday. Ferguson, 58, began training horses at Hastings in 1976.