06/17/2010 11:00PM

Morning post time to accommodate football

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Management at Hastings is trying to make the best of a bad situation by starting the races at 10 a.m. Pacific this Sunday. The reason for the early post time is that the B.C. Lions, the local Canadian Football League team, is playing an exhibition game at a temporary facility located on the same site as Hastings.

This will be the first of three conflicts with the Lions. Post times will be changed to 1:40 p.m. on Friday, July 16, and 4:40 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11. The temporary facility holds roughly 30,000 people, and until the renovations to the team's home stadium, B.C. Place, are completed next summer, the Lions will play their games at what has been dubbed "Empire Fields." The Vancouver Whitecaps, the local soccer team will also be playing their games at Empire Fields.

Even though Hastings has been a long-term tenant at the PNE, they always play second fiddle when the PNE hosts other events. Parking rates go up and spaces to park for racetrack patrons are reduced. If Hastings were to run at its normal time Sunday, the cost to park would be between $25 and $30.

To help get people into the track early, Hastings is hosting a free pancake breakfast between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. Early risers will also get to park for $10, and most of that will be refunded by Hastings in the way of food vouchers.

There is one possible plus. The Hastings signal will be the only Western signal going into Eastern race tracks.

Some horsemen felt the track would be better served by running after the game, which starts at 2 p.m. Also, they are not happy that training hours on Sunday will be from 5 to 7:30 a.m.

"We certainly looked at both sides of the equation," said Raj Mutti, general manager at Hastings. "If we started after the game, our first race would be around 5:30 and we would have limited simulcast partners."

Mutti is hoping a lot of Lions fans will come out to the races before the game and to the casino after.

"The Lions have been great to work with to help make this a success," said Mutti. "We have their cheerleaders coming out to host the breakfast and every season ticket-holder received a betting voucher attached to their tickets. Anyone with a ticket stub to the games can come to the casino and enter a $1,000 cash draw. If the weather is decent, I think we could have a good day."

Blinkers back on Krazy Koffee

Hastings has a good feature on tap Sunday, and a couple of Grade 3 winners are hoping to get back on track in the $50,000 optional race for older horses. The problem facing both Krazy Koffee and Trick of the North is that there appears to be a lack of speed in the field, and they usually take a while to get rolling.

Trainer Cindy Krasner will be putting blinkers back on Krazy Koffee after he ran two dull races to start the year. It is possible Krazy Koffee will show a bit more speed, and he did set a very slow pace when he won the B.C. Cup Classic last year. Nonetheless, his best races have come when he has been able to make one big run as he did in winning the Grade 3 B.C. Derby in 2008.

"He just hasn't been paying attention," said Krasner. "Hopefully he'll be more on the ball Sunday."

New rider for Trick of the North

Trainer Barbara Heads is also making a change with Trick of the North, but by necessity not design. Pedro Alvarado will take over the riding duties for an injured Robert Skelly. Last year, Skelly guided Trick of the North through some of the tightest spots imaginable to win four races here, including the Grade 3 Premiers over Teide.

"Skelly got along with him so well, and it will be interesting to see how he responds to Pedro," said Heads.

In his first start this year, Trick of the North, who is 9, dropped back to last and stayed there in a $50,000 optional claiming race won by Spaghetti Mouse. The painfully slow fractions certainly didn't help Trick of the North's chances.

"He didn't get very much out of that race," said Heads. "He wasn't about to catch the ones up front after they went so slow early anyway. Hopefully he'll show a bit more on Sunday. Maybe he'll have a flashback to when he was younger and occasionally got involved early."