08/13/2010 2:34PM

Schedule changes when PNE fair begins


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – There is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

The annual fair at the Pacific National Exhibition is just about here and depending on your outlook the next few weeks will either be an exciting time or a horror show. The fair shares the same site as Hastings and for most horsemen it is the latter, as their usual routine is interrupted and many times the noise coming from the fair is intrusive and can cause horses to spook.

Following next Friday there is also a dramatic change to the live schedule. Instead of the usual Friday, Saturday, Sunday rotation, Hastings will feature mid-week cards on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Aug. 24-26, and then Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, Sept. 1-3. First post will be 6:40 p.m.

The fair begins Aug. 21 and runs through Labor Day, Sept. 6. Hastings will have a 1:40 p.m. post on the final day of the fair.

Last year in an agreement with the PNE, Hastings opened up the infield to parking during the weekends. The arrangement seems to have worked well for both parties and has been renewed this year.

“Last year we had our best Friday night of the year during the fair and the second Wednesday was also pretty good,” said Hastings general manager Raj Mutti. “Plus, our casino had the best two weeks since it opened during last year’s fair.”

This will be the 100th anniversary for the PNE and there will be close to a million people attending the fair over the next couple of weeks. Mutti hopes the relationship Hastings has developed with the management at the PNE will pay off in a big way.

“With the anniversary, traffic to the site should as big as ever,” said Mutti. “They have given us more of a presence on the site and they also included us in some of their direct mail outs. We’ve become more of a part of their general fair footprint and hopefully we’ll attract some new customers.

“We would have loved to run on the first Friday, but the Lions are playing that night and it would have been a big nightmare to have the Lions, the fair, and us all on at the same time.”

Mutti was referring to the local Canadian Football league team, the B.C. Lions, who are using a temporary facility for their home games while their downtown stadium is being refurbished.

Hastings will also try and take advantage of the increased crowds by offering food and beverage specials. The exorbitant prices charged by vendors at the fair could send waves of people looking for a good deal to Hastings. There will also be traffic going the other way as the smell of the mini-donuts seeps into the track and for most people the enticement is just too hard to deny.

Stakes doubleheaders approaching

There will be four stakes races run during the fair. First up are both divisions of the CTHS Sales Stakes for 3-year-olds on Wednesday, Aug.  25. Another stakes doubleheader is on tap the following day with the $50,000 New Westminster for 2-year-olds and the $50,000 Lassie for 2-year-old fillies. Both races are at 6 1/2 furlongs, and are the first open 2-year-old stakes at the meet.

Stakes horses work out

Friday morning a few local stars had their final preps for major races out of town.

Senor Rojo will be heading to the Grade 3, $250,000 Longacres Mile on Aug. 22 following a strong five-furlong drill in 1:00.20.

“He did that easily and he should be ready to go,” said his trainer Dave Forster.

Heading to Emerald the same day for the $75,000 Emerald Downs Distaff is Summer Song. The top older mare at Hastings, Summer Song worked a handy seven furlongs in 1:26.20 for trainer Troy Taylor.

Trainer Dino Condilenios was very pleased with the six-furlong move in 1:12.20 by Lowther Street with Fernando Perez aboard.

Lowther Street figures to be one of the favorites in the $75,000 Speed to Spare at Northlands Park. The Speed to Spare is part of the Grade 3, $300,000 Canadian Derby card on Aug. 21.