Opening day to the start of the 2017 Hastings Racecourse thoroughbred season has been pushed back one week to Sunday, April 23 and General Manager Darren MacDonald sees the adjustment as one of many positive developments on the horizon.
“The unpleasant weather we experienced at the start of February resulted in the majority of horses being behind in their pre-season preparations,” MacDonald said. “We will add races later in the meet to make up for the cancellation of opening day. It's looking like we are on the way to seeing the highest horse population numbers in many years with stall applications currently in the 650 range. The new incentive programs have been well received and that bodes well for a very promising season.”
Ole Nielsen, President of the BC Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders Association (BCTOBA), says the various incentive programs are all over-subscribed and he sees renewed enthusiasm among breeders and owners.
“Our horse population is up to the point where there are more horses than ever in recent years,” Nielsen said. “In addition, we have 47 new mares, weanlings and yearlings in our province as a result of our fall and winter incentives. It's unfortunate the bad weather worked against us earlier this month and delayed things, but we'll make up for it. Everyone is excited.”
Nielsen speaks with authority after having been involved in thoroughbred racing since 1970 as owner of Canmor Farms in Aldergrove and serving as a past president and director of several industry organizations.
Another change on the 2017 Hastings Racecourse schedule entails moving the original race date of Monday, Sept. 4 to Wednesday, Sept. 6 in order to accommodate parking concerns expressed by officials of The Fair at the PNE on its traditional Labour Day closing date.
“We're planning a ‘throwback' theme relating to the 1990's when Wednesday night racing was a regular happening,” MacDonald said. “The card will start at 7:00 p.m. and the evening will feature prices from the 1990's, when things were a lot less expensive than they are today.”
he Hastings Paddock Sale featuring two-year-olds in training and horses of racing age will be held on Sunday, April 30 instead of April 2. The sale will commence 15 minutes after the last race on the Sunday afternoon card (Apr. 30) with the preview set for Saturday, April 29 at 11:30 a.m. following training at Hastings. “We want to give consignors extra time to get their horses ready and put forth fit product for the sale,” MacDonald said.
Hastings Racing Secretary Nichelle Milner is pleased with the amount of horses in training following the unpleasant weather delay. “There has been a lot interest expressed by owners in Alberta,” Milner said. “I'm seeing a steady influx of horses returning to the track for training and because we have some of the best trainers in the industry, I can safely say that they will be ready for opening day.”