06/08/2010 11:00PM

Stakes take worst of Hastings purse cuts


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Stakes purses at Hastings took the brunt of the purse cuts announced by the government-appointed Horse Racing Industry Management Committee this week. The cuts will go into effect on Friday. The committee was formed last year to try and revitalize the local horse racing industry and was given the power to distribute purse money to both the Thoroughbred and Standardbred sectors.

A total of $450,000 has been sliced from the stakes program, a 17 percent cut from what was advertised at the beginning of the year. Taking the biggest hit of all is the marquee race at Hastings, the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby. Last year the derby grossed $275,000. With the cuts, it will now carry a $100,000 purse.

Other notable cuts were made to the Lieutenant Governors', which was reduced by 50 percent to $50,000; the B.C. Oaks was cut from $100,000 to $55,000; and the Grade 3 Ballerina dropped from $120,000 to $100,000. There were also some cuts to overnight purses, and that follows a 5 percent reduction made to overnight purses just three weeks ago.

Owner Glen Todd, who sits on the horse racing committee, explained the reason for the cuts to the stakes purses.

"The overall handle is down about 17 percent from last year, and we are trying to keep our low end purses stable," said Todd. "We need bottom-level horses to help fill races, and if their owners can't make any money they have nowhere else to go. The committee is supposed to help revitalize the industry, and right now we're just trying to keep it afloat."

Unseasonably cold and wet weather has certainly hurt the ontrack handle, but Todd said the major loss in handle comes from California.

"They just aren't betting as much as they used to and it is taking its toll," he said.

According to Harold Barroby, who is a longtime member of the board of directors of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, the cuts to stakes were needed because of they were above 20 percent of the total purses at Hastings.

"It had to be done," said Barroby. "They were above the 20-percent threshold, and this brings them back in line."

Because of the committee now controls the purse money, management at Hastings had input, but not the final say on how the cuts were divided.

"Our biggest disappoint is that the derby was dropped to $100,000," said Hastings general manager Raj Mutti. "It really takes away from what has been our marquee race for a long time."

Some plans put on hold

With the cuts, trainer Dino Condilenios wasn't sure if Almost Time and Teide, the first two finishers in the $52,095 John Longden 6000 last Sunday, would still be pointed to the Lieutenant Governors' on July 1.

"I don't know now," he said. "The Lieutenant Governors' and the Longacres Mile were our main goals, but with the cuts here we might look for another race for them."

Almost Time, with Frank Fuentes aboard, came from off the pace to upset Teide, who was sent off as the 3-5 favorite in the Longden. Teide and Tommy Danzigger got involved in a speed duel, and set it up beautifully for Almost Time. His final time of 1:42.93 came close to equaling the track record of 1:42.20 for 1 1/16 miles.

"I didn't expect them to go that fast up front," said Condilenios. "But we weren't about to let Tommy Danzigger go out there all by himself, and the plan all along was to have Teide go with him. I knew Almost Time was ready to run a big race but, honestly, I thought Teide would be the winner. It just shaped up a little differently than we thought it would."

Similarly, on Saturday Glen Todd, who is part-owner of Dyna Stroll and Cherokee Notion, thought Cherokee Notion was the one to beat in the $54,790 Jim Coleman Province for 3-year-olds. Instead, with apprentice rider Geovanni Franco aboard, Dyna Stroll came from off the pace to beat Sense of Humor by a neck. Cherokee Notion was ridden by Mario Gutierrez. They are both trained by Troy Taylor.

"I bet the wrong horse, and I should have listened to Troy instead of Mario," said Todd. "He told me all week that Dyna Stroll was going to win. Mario had his choice and he chose Cherokee Notion. It's kind of funny because all spring he kept telling us that Dyna Stroll was his derby horse."

Services set for Snow

Funeral services for Velma Snow will be held at the Henderson Funeral Home at 20786 Fraser Highway in Langley on Monday at 2 p.m. Snow, who was 93, died of natural causes last week. She was the mother of longtime HBPA president Mel Snow as well as jockey agents Wayne and Daryl Snow. Her grandson, John Snow is one of the leading trainers at Hastings. Following the service there will be a celebration of her life at John Snow's home in Langley.