07/13/2012 1:25PM

Hastings: Total handle, ontrack handle on rise at meeting

Four-Footed Fotos
Majesticality has been turned out for the rest of the Hastings meet after injuring himself.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The second half of the 2012 Hastings meet begins this weekend, and general manager Raj Mutti was pleased with how the first half went.

According to Mutti, the total live mutuel handle is up by 11 percent. What has Mutti excited is that ontrack live handle is up by 12 percent. The amount being bet ontrack is actually higher than reflected in the figures.

“What isn’t included in the ontrack figures is the amount people are betting using their smart phones,” Mutti said. “The wagers are being made at Hastings, but it gets recorded as an offsite wager. It has been one of our biggest areas of growth. We introduced it late last year, and people bet about $18,000 using their smart phones. This year, the amount is over $250,000 on the live handle and another $100,000 on other tracks.”

Since there is no charge for admission, there is no real way to track attendance figures.

“I think we are seeing double-digit increases in attendance, though,” Mutti said. “Our food and beverage numbers reflect that. What is really encouraging is we have had these gains despite all the rain we’ve had.”

Mutti thinks the positive trend will continue over the second half of the season.

“The key is field size,” Mutti said. “As long as our horse population holds up, we should do well. There is a horse shortage up and down the West Coast, but we seem to be holding our own. Our horsemen have shown great support at the entry box, and they had their horses ready to go right from the start.”

The average number starters per race at the meet is 7.46, which is up from last year’s average of 7.22. The figures also compare favorably to nearby Emerald Downs, 6.56, and the recently concluded Golden Gate meet, 6.71.

The next big day on the Hastings calendar features six B.C.-bred stakes race on B.C. Cup Day, Aug. 6. In order to help increase the average field size for what has traditionally been the biggest day of the year, the B.C. Cup Sprint was dropped. It usually had a short field, and management was hoping some of the horses that may have entered the Sprint would run in the 1 1/8-mile, $75,000 B.C. Cup Classic. The problem this year is the imposing presence of Taylor Said, who has dominated the older handicap division. If he runs in the Classic, it will be hard to convince trainers to run against him. In his last win, he easily handled a field of non-B.C.-breds in the Lieutenant Governors’ on July 2.

“We’re certainly looking at the race,” trainer Troy Taylor said. “There is $75,000 up for grabs, and he is doing very well.”

Taylor also said the Grade 3, $200,000 Longacres Mile on Aug. 19 was another possibility for Taylor Said.

“He’s not a good shipper, so we would prefer to keep him here,” Taylor said. “We’ll see.”

The weight Taylor Said will be assigned for the Classic will certainly have an impact on where he runs.

“How much can they give him?” Taylor said.

A substantial amount would be the educated guess.

Majesticality injured, done for year

Majesticality was being pointed to the Classic, but has been turned out for the rest of the meet after injuring himself in his win in a first-level $35,000 optional claiming race June 24. The conditions of the race allowed B.C.-bred nonwinners of four to run. It was Majesticality’s first win since he won the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby in 2010. He also needed time off following his derby win.

“He seems to hurt himself every time he wins,” trainer Barbara Heads said. “I’m not sure how long he’ll need, but he is definitely out for the year”

Heads is hoping for a big effort from Tierra Del Feugo in the $50,000 Strawberry Morn for fillies and mares Sunday. Tierra Del Feugo is coming off a second-place finish behind Heidi Maria in 1 1/16-mile, first-level $35,000 optional claiming race June 10. It was just her second start this year, and Heads thinks she will take a big step forward in the Strawberry Morn.

“I was very encouraged by the race,” Heads said. “She was behind the other horses in the division, but she showed me she was ready to take them on when she stepped up to the plate the way she did.”

◗ Hastings is hosting an event Sunday to raise money for the New Stride Thoroughbred Adoption Society. Founded in 2002, New Stride endeavors to find caring homes for retired thoroughbreds.

The event, Winner’s Circle Day at the Races, is being held in the Marquee Tent. It starts at 1:30 p.m. and features a cocktail-style buffet, live entertainment, and a silent auction. Tickets can be purchased at winners-circle.ca.