There’s “light at the end of the tunnel,” but not much sun.

Atrocious winter weather has delayed the start of the season at Hastings Racecourse, but the wait is over — racing starts Sunday afternoon at 1:50 p.m., even though rain is in the forecast.

“It’s a relief to see the light at the end of the tunnel after what has been the toughest winter in decades,” said Hastings general manager Darren MacDonald.

The inclement weather interrupted the February and March training schedules, but the new 52-day thoroughbred racing schedule begins today with two $50,000 stake races — the Brighouse Belles and Swift Thoroughbreds Inaugural.

“The Swift Thoroughbreds Inaugural will have a field of 11 with seven of the horses having won at least one stake race in 2016,” said MacDonald. “Without a doubt, it will be one of the most interesting and competitive opening day cards in a number of years at Hastings.”

Richard Hamel, leading jockey at Hastings last year for a fourth time in his career, rides the morning line favourites in both featured stakes: Modern (5-2) in the Swift Inaugural and C U At Eau Claire (2-1) in the Brighouse Belles.

“I’ve been around long enough to realize you never know what to expect once that gate opens,” said the 48-year-old Hamel. “It’s always a challenge.”

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Celebrating its 125th anniversary, thoroughbred racing in Vancouver has developed into an entertainment destination for a whole new demographic of young fun-seekers from the ages of 19 to 39.

 

Get dressed up derby-style

Located at Hastings Racecourse on the PNE grounds, patrons now frequent the facilities decked out in Derby-style attire, including fascinators and fedoras as they meet and mingle in various food & beverage outlets on all three levels of the track.

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Admission is free all season

The “Sport of Kings’ racing season runs through mid-October basically on Saturday and Sunday afternoons with 1:50 p.m. start times. The exceptions are Friday Night Live race cards under the lights (7 p.m. starts) and Holiday Mondays (12:50 p.m.). There is never an admission charge at Hastings and plenty of PNE parking is available at just $10.

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Be part of history

This weekend, thoroughbred racing history could be made with California Chrome trying to become the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years with the running the Belmont Stakes from New York on Saturday, June 7. The race will be shown live on the 40-foot jumbo screen at Hastings Racecourse as part of Saturday afternoon’s live racing card.

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Soak in the amazing views

With the North Shore mountains and Burrard Inlet serving as a back-drop, Hastings Racecourse has been described in the industry as one of the most scenic race track locations in North America. Each year an estimated 250,000 racing enthusiasts watch the colour and drama unfold at Hastings.

Hastings View

Learn to bet from the best

For those fans not accustomed to wagering or perhaps intimidated with the process of betting on a horse, there is a team of Hastings wagering ambassadors patrolling the grounds to offer assistance and expert advice.

HASTINGS

Hastings Racecourse

Address: PNE – 2901 E Hastings Street, Vancouver (enter through Gate 6 or 9)

Reservations: 604-216-5204 or book online

Monthly Events: HastingsRacecourse.com

Twitter: @HastingsRaces

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