04/14/2011 2:56PM

Hastings park: Purses up, pick 5 added as meet begins

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Thanks to help from the provincial government overnight purses at Hastings will see a 19-percent increase from last year when the 2011 racing season begins this Saturday. Stakes purses will jump by 23 percent during the 71-day meet that runs through Oct. 2.

There is also good news for anyone betting on the live product. The pari-mutuel takeout for win, place, show, and pick 4 wagering will drop to 15 percent. Last year the takeout for win, place, and show was 17.3 percent. The 20-cent pick 4 was 22.3  percent. The newly created 20-cent pick 5 has also been set at 15  percent.

B.C. Cup Day, Aug. 1, has traditionally been the biggest day of the year at Hastings. The $50,000 B.C. Cup Classic headlines seven British Columbia.-bred stakes totaling $350,000.

B.C. Cup Day could be upstaged by the card featuring the Grade 3, $200,000 British Columbia Derby Sept. 11. Supporting the B.C. Derby are five stakes including the $100,000 British Columbia Oaks. The total for the six stakes is $500,000. The other two Grade 3 stakes, the $100,000 Premiers and $100,000 Ballerina close out the meet Oct. 2.

Troy Taylor is once again the odds-on favorite to be leading trainer. Taylor, elected into the B.C. Horse Racing Hall of Fame last year, has been the leading trainer at Hastings the past four years.

Richard Hamel, who led the standings at Hastings for the first time in his career in 2010, is back to defend his title.

Entries for the eight-race opening day program were a bit light compared to last year when nine races were carded.

“We had a very cold and wet winter,” said Paul Ryneveld, racing director at Hastings. “We have a lot of horses that are just a work away. Hopefully, we’ll get a break in the weather.”

Despite the obstacles, Ryneveld was able to put together an excellent card that includes a matchup between Outoftheclouds and Bond James Bond. Outoftheclouds won two stakes at Hastings last year and was voted the top 2-year-old in the province. Bond James Bond, undefeated in four starts, was the best 2-year-old in Alberta in 2010.

Outoftheclouds, trained by Mel Snow, will be ridden by Dave Wilson in the $75,000 optional race that drew eight 3-year-olds going six furlongs.

Trainer Greg Tracy appears to have Bond James Bond ready for a peak effort in his first start since he won the Canadian Juvenile at Northlands Park on Oct. 10.

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