10/12/2012 12:58PM

Hastings: Meet ending with numbers up

Tom Keyser
The Hastings meet was given a huge boost when local jockey Mario Gutierrez won the Kentucky Derby aboard I’ll Have Another. Because of Gutierrez, Hastings received unprecedented coverage in the local media.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Sunday is the last day of a successful 2012 Hastings meet. When all the numbers are totaled, the average daily live mutuel handle will be up roughly 10 percent over last year.

The meet started out with strong figures and was given a huge boost when local jockey Mario Gutierrez won the Kentucky Derby aboard I’ll Have Another. The odds of a jockey from Hastings winning the Derby are astronomical, and Gutierrez became not only a local hero but also famous throughout North America. Fans flocked to Hastings to watch Gutierrez’s flawless ride aboard I’ll Have Another in the Preakness and there was also a large crowd on hand for the Belmont despite the late defection of I’ll Have Another. Because of Gutierrez, Hastings received unprecedented coverage by the local media, and they were still coming out to cover him when he won the B.C. Premiers aboard Commander last Monday. He has been like the gift that never stops giving.

Management at Hastings gives a lot of credit to local horsemen for the successful meet. Despite fewer horses stabled on the grounds the average number of starters per race was 7.61, compared with 7.22 last year.

They are probably not thankful enough to bend to the horsemen’s request to have the 2013 season end on Breeders’ Cup weekend, however. More than likely the 71-day 2013 meet will look similar to the 2012 season that began mid-April.

The Grade 3, $100,000 B.C. Premiers last weekend was the race of the meet. Heavily favored Commander dueled with the 2011 B.C. Derby winner, Northern Causeway, through very fast fractions in the 1 3/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up and was still able to repel the bid by Jebrica, who hooked into him approaching the quarter pole. Commander and Jebrica, with Russell Baze aboard, were never separated by more than a head the rest of the way, with Commander getting the nod at the wire.

It was Commander’s sixth straight stakes win, the first four coming at Northlands Park, but it might not be enough for him to be named the local Horse of the Year at the annual Thoroughbred awards dinner that will be held at Newlands Golf Course on Nov. 22. He is making his next start in the Grade 2, $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon, and a win there could give him the edge over his stablemate Taylor Said, who is currently the leading candidate for top honors. Taylor Said won four stakes at Hastings and carried 128 pounds in his 6 1/4-length romp in the B.C. Cup Classic. He wrapped up his year with a win over Winning Machine in the Longacres Mile.

Both horses are owned by Glen Todd and trained by Troy Taylor.

Todd, who races under the stable name North America Thoroughbred Horse Company inc., has won 19 stakes races this year and is currently the leading owner in stakes wins in North America. He thinks Taylor Said should get the award because of his four stakes wins at Hastings.

Second City stands out

A horse has to make only one start in a stakes race to be eligible for an award, and the way Second City overcame a rough start to win the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby voters should have an easy time choosing him as the top 3-year-old. Making his first start for trainer Craig MacPherson, Second City was easily the best horse in the derby, and he should get the nod over Devil in Disguise and Taylors Deal.

Todd or Taylor will step up to the podium to accept the award for Evelyn’s Dancer, who dominated the 3-year-old filly division this year. She won the $100,000 British Columbia Oaks and ran a huge race to finish second behind Class Included in the Grade 3, $100,000 Ballerina for fillies and mares.

Class Included is a lock to be voted top older filly or mare. Trained by Jim Penney, Class Included also won the $50,000 Delta Colleen in her only other start at Hastings. The classy 4-year-old filly has won 10 of her 16 races and has never finished worse than second.

Either Taylor Said or Herbie D will get the top sprinter award. Taylor Said earned a 104 Beyer Speed Figure for his win in the 6 1/2-furlong John Longden, but that was the only time he ran in a sprint. Herbie D. won all three of his sprints including the $50,000 Express going six furlongs. He probably would have set a track record in both of his races going 6 1/2 furlongs if Amadeo Perez had ridden him out to the wire.

Proud Victor is the leading candidate in the 2-year-old colts and geldings division, but he would need a win in the $75,000 Ascot Graduation to wrap up the title.

The winner of Sunday’s $75,000 Fantasy will have a big chance of winning the 2-year-old filly title.