02/28/2014 12:46PM

Hastings plans 51-day meet, schedules 38 stakes

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The 51-day 2014 Hastings live meet begins Sunday, April 27, and concludes Monday, Oct. 13. If business is brisk through October, another four days will be added and the meet could stretch to Oct. 25.

Last year, 69 days were scheduled, but six days were canceled due to a lack of horses. Hastings management is hoping fewer days will result in no cancellations and a better overall product. Last year, the average field size was 7.12.

“It really hurt our momentum when we had to cancel days last year,” Hastings general manager Darren MacDonald said. “The purses will be higher this year, and I believe we’ll have a strong product for our customers to wager on.”

Glen Todd, a leading owner and member of the British Columbia Horse Racing Management Committee, is optimistic about the meet. The committee assigns dates and sets purse levels for both Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds in British Columbia.

The total purse money will be about $8 million compared to $8.5 million last year, Todd said. This year’s budget calls for a daily average purse distribution of $158,000 compared to $134,000 in 2013.

“Less racing days is obviously a big concern, but the purses are going to be considerably higher,” Todd said. “They are going up in every category. Open allowance races will be worth $32,000 and maiden special weight races will carry a $25,000 purse.”

Todd is confident about running the extra four days.

“The simulcast handle through January is up about three and a half percent, and if we can keep the momentum going, they should have enough to run the last two weeks,” Todd said.

Racing will be conducted mostly on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. In August, there will be four Friday and a couple of Monday cards.

38 stakes scheduled at meet

The Grade 3, $150,000 British Columbia Derby headlines a 38-race stakes schedule worth $2.35 million.

The B.C. Derby, Sept. 14, will be supported by the $100,000 B.C. Oaks for 3-year-old fillies, the $50,000 S.W. Randall Plate for 3-year-olds and up, and the $50,000 Delta Colleen for fillies and mares.

The other graded stakes at Hastings, the Grade 3, $100,000 Premiers and Grade 3, $100,000 Ballerina, are part of a four-stakes card that potentially closes the season Oct. 13. The $75,000 Fantasy for 2-year-old fillies and the $75,000 Ascot Graduation for 2-year-olds also will be part of the Oct. 13 card.

B.C. Cup Day, featuring six stakes restricted to British Columbia-breds, is slated for Monday, Aug. 4. The $75,000 Classic is the richest race on the card.

The $50,000 Lieutenant Governors for 3-year-olds and up headlines four stakes races set for Canada Day on Tuesday, July 1.

Monday, Sept. 1, features four Canadian Thoroughbred Sales Stakes for 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds.

The $100,000 Jack Diamond Futurity and the $100,000 Sadie Diamond Futurity for 2-year-old fillies share top billing on Sunday, Sept. 21.

Included in the stakes schedule released by Hastings on Thursday are 11 unrestricted allowance races worth $32,000 each. They are named after members of the B.C. Horse Racing Hall of Fame and will serve as preps for upcoming stakes.