Updated on 09/16/2011 8:11AM

Weekend is an open-and-shut case


VANCOUVER, B. C. - Hastings Park begins its 2002 season this Saturday with nine races including the $35,000 Fair Lady Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. But because of a shortage of horses ready to run, this Sunday and Wednesday's cards have been scrapped. Post time for the first race is 1:23 P.M.

"With a virus going around and the poor weather we've had this winter, there are a lot of horses on the grounds that are about a week away from running," said Phil Heard, general manager of Hastings.

"We felt it was in the best interest of our fans to put on at least one good day of racing, so we borrowed races from Sunday and Wednesday to make up the Saturday card. Most of the horsemen said they are one work away from running, and we felt it was better to put on a good card opening day and the following weekend instead of forcing the issue."

Heard also said that that the horse population is the same as last year and felt that Hastings Park shouldn't have any problems filling races after next weekend. "I hope we can find somewhere to make up the lost days later in the season."

HBPA head critical of his own

While Heard cited the weather and virus as the causes for the cancellations, Mel Snow, president of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, put some of the blame on the horsemen.

"The HBPA and Hastings Park management have worked together to make opening day a go. Sure, the weather and virus are a problem, but some horsemen haven't made a strong enough effort to have their horses ready. That hurts us more than management."

Two stand out in Fair Lady

Beautiful Stranger and Shelby Madison figure to vie for favoritism in the 6 1/2-furlong Fair Lady Stakes. Beautiful Stranger won the prestigious Sadie Diamond Futurity last year and has been working sharply for her 3-year-old debut.

"She's as fit as you can get off of works alone, and she seems happy," said her trainer, Dino Condilenios.

Shelby Madison finished third in the 6 1/2-furlong Futurity but won the 1 1/16 miles Fantasy Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths over Beautiful Stranger. Toni Jacobson trains.

* Hastings Park is planning to run 89 days, ending on Nov. 3. The $200,000 B.C. Derby, the highlight of the meet, is scheduled for Sept. 21. The B.C. Cup celebration will be held over three days again, August 3, 4, and 5. Post times are 1:23 p.m. for weekends and holidays and 5:53 for Wednesday evenings. Special post times have been set for Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Days, with the first race going at 3:33 P.M.

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