06/22/2012 3:46PM

Hastings will offer incentives to shippers


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – In an effort to increase the local horse population, Hastings is offering a financial incentive for owners to bring horses to the Vancouver track.

Beginning July 1, horses shipping to Hastings and staying for at least two races will receive a $1,000 bonus following their second race. If they win their first race at Hastings, they also will receive a 25 percent bonus. The 25 percent bonus only applies to horses that stay and run a second time. To be eligible, a horse must not have raced in British Columbia for the same owner in the past six months.

“We are doing this to try and beef up our racing stock,” said Paul Ryneveld, director of racing at Hastings. “All the associations are in agreement with this plan, so we have their blessing on this.”

The horsemen’s associations Ryneveld was referring to are the Horsemen’s Benevolent Protective Association and the B.C. Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.

“It should help us fill races,” said Dave Milburn, president of the local HBPA. “We need the horses. We have horses here that can’t run because races won’t fill in certain categories. Often, it is just a horse or two between the race filling or not filling. Hopefully, it will help provide fuller fields and a little more depth to the races. It is always more interesting for bettors when a horse from another jurisdiction is running in a race here.”

BCTOBA president Ole Nielsen said: “There is little doubt we are in competition with every racetrack in the country for racehorses. We are not just targeting owners who haven’t raced horses here, but we also are hoping our B.C. owners will buy horses from other provinces and countries and bring them to Hastings.”

According to Ryneveld, there are 655 horses stabled at Hastings, which currently runs three days a week. The shortage of horses will be noticeable if Hastings tries to run the four days scheduled Aug. 3-6. Nothing has been confirmed, but there are negotiations between management and the two groups representing the horsemen to cancel Friday, Aug. 3.

Wilo Kat eyeing Chris Loseth Stakes

Trainer John Snow is taking a good look at running Wilo Kat in the $50,000 Chris Loseth Stakes on Monday, July 2. The Chris Loseth for 3-year-olds will share top billing on the Canada Day holiday with the $50,000 Lieutenant Governors for 3-year-olds and up. Both races will be contested over 1 1/16 miles.

Wilo Kat is coming off a win over High End Man in a 1 1/16-mile, $50,000 optional claiming race June 17. It was his third win in a row for Snow who claimed him for $10,000 on behalf of Wayne Oliver, Gord Christoff, Blair Law, and Rob Fiorvento in his first start this year April 29.

Wilo Kat is the first foal out of Regal Red who was sensational in her short career. Trained by Robbie Anderson, Regal Red won all six of her races as a 3-year-old, including five stakes. She only ran twice at 4, winning the Strawberry Morn and finishing second in the Cover Girl. She was retired after she finished fourth in the 2006 Vancouver Sun in her only start as a 5-year-old. Snow claimed Wilo Kat from Anderson.

“I thought Regal Red was something special, so I thought it might be worth taking a gamble on her foal,” Snow said. “It has worked out pretty good for us, and hopefully, he can continue to progress.”

Snow wasn’t absolutely sure about running Wilo Kat in the Loseth.

“The Loseth comes up a bit quick, but he is doing so well right now we are certainly considering it,” Snow said. “He knows what the game is and he is just getting better every day.”

Snow is having a strong meet, winning eight races from 31 starters.

“It helps having horses with conditions,” Snow said. “Last year, I had 16 2-year-olds, and it makes it tough having that many young horses in the barn. We were patient with them, and it is paying off this year.”

Local connection for Queen’s Plate

The $1 million Queen’s Plate isn’t usually that big of a deal at Hastings, and normally, it is just part of the simulcast program from Woodbine. This year, however, there is keen interest, and there will be time given between the second and third races to focus on the Plate. The reason is Strait of Dover, the morning-line favorite, who is owned and was bred by Wally and Terry Leong of Canyon Farms.

Strait of Dover began his career at Hastings as a 2-year-old, but didn’t do much in either of his starts on dirt, finishing sixth and fifth in $30,000 optional maiden claiming races for trainer Cindy Krasner. Because of his breeding, which suggests turf, he was sent to Woodbine, where he thrived on the Polytrack surface. If he wins the Queen’s Plate, he will become the first B.C.-bred to win the race.

Canyon Farms also ran Illusive Force in the 2003 Queen’s Plate. He was a longshot, however, and finished last.