04/22/2010 11:00PM

Welch shifts tack temporarily

Email

Up until last year, Alberta started its racing season at Stampede Park a couple of weeks earlier than Hastings. When the license for the spring dates were given to a proposed track in Balzac, Stampede pulled the plug on its racing operation. The operators of the Balzac track are still trying to get financing to complete the stalled project.

Northlands Park, which is in Edmonton, took over some of the dates from Stampede, but doesn't open until the middle of May. Hastings benefits with Alberta-based trainers and jockeys getting warmed up in Vancouver before they head home.

Quincy Welch, who has been one of the top riders in Alberta for years, will be riding here for at least the first three weeks of the meet, possibly longer. Welch has an impressive resume and would be a welcome addition to any jockeys' room. From 8,386 mounts he has won 1,687 races, which translates into an excellent 20 percent.

"I am going to give it a good shot here and if I can pick up enough business I would certainly consider staying," Welch said. "Part of the reason is that I really like the city. I'm from Barbados, and like Barbados, Vancouver has very lush vegetation. The racing is very similar to Edmonton so I feel very comfortable riding here."

Welch, 31, is no stranger to trainers based at Hastings. He has a record of 27 wins in 150 mounts locally.