While the 72nd running of the BC Derby will definitely be the feature attraction at Hastings Racecourse Saturday afternoon, the five supporting stake races deserve single billings of their own.
That’s what happens when there is $550,000 in total purse money on the line with a schedule that breaks down this way:
Race 3 – 2:48 p.m. – $100,000 Sadie Diamond Futurity
Race 5 – 3:46 p.m. – $100,000 BC Oaks
Race 6 – 4:15 p.m. – $100,000 Jack Diamond Futurity
Race 7 – 4:44 p.m. – $ 50,000 SW Randall Plate
Race 8 – 5:25 p.m. – $150,000 BC Derby
Race 9 – 5:57 p.m. – $ 50,000 Delta Colleen
The nine-race Saturday card with a start time of 1:50 pm is the biggest and richest event of the local thoroughbred season and has gained the attention of horsemen from both Northlands Park in Edmonton and Emerald Downs in Washington State.
“It’s the ultimate afternoon of entertainment on our 2017 racing calendar,” says Darren MacDonald, Hastings Racecourse General Manager and Director, BC Racing. “It is particularly satisfying to see top quality horses ship in from other jurisdictions.”
The 10 horses entered in the Grade 3 BC Derby for three-year-olds will include the 5-2 morning line favourite Riser, trained by Emerald Downs leading trainer Blaine Wright and ridden by veteran jockey Aaron Gryder. Riser is coming off a front-winning victory in the $75,000 Emerald Downs Derby on July 30 over the same 1 1/8 miles distance as the BC Derby.
The top three finishers of the $150,000 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park on August 19 checked into the Hastings backstretch earlier this week. Chief Know It All with Rico Walcott aboard for trainer Robertino Diodoro narrowly won the Canadian Derby in a controversial finish that left Trooper John and Double Bear in a dead heat for second. Saturday they resume that rivalry.
The BC Oaks will get as much attention as the Derby with a clash of the top three-year-old fillies from both Hastings and Emerald Downs in what could develop into an epic showdown. Daz Lin Dawn, trained by Nancy Betts, has won six consecutive stakes at Hastings this year with leading rider Richard Hamel in the irons for all of them. Among Saturday’s eight-horse Oaks field is Little Dancer, winner of the Washington Oaks and trained by the venerable Doris Harwood at Emerald Downs who told Randy Goulding of the Daily Racing Form: “This is the kind of race people want to see and I am looking forward to it. If she runs her race and gets beat, I am still going to be proud of her.” Betts, meantime, said of Daz Lin Dawn: “This is what we’ve been pointing to all year. She just seems to be getting better with each race. It’s been an amazing year and hopefully she can make it seven in a row.”
Both Little Dancer and Riser, by winning their respective Washington Oaks and Derby stakes at Emerald Downs, will each receive a $25,000 bonus should they be repeat winners Saturday at Hastings.
The Sea to Sky Pick 6 begins with the fourth race Saturday with a $16,276 carryover while the late Pick 4 (Race 6 thru 9) has a guaranteed pool of $25,000.
Hastings’ exercise rider Bailey Heggie will be on horseback interviewing the BC Derby winning jockey prior to the winner’s circle celebrations Saturday. Miss Heggie, 23, appeared on national television with CTV doing the same assignment following the Canadian Derby at Northlands Park in 2014 and 2015. Her appearance Saturday will be shown live on the jumbo screen located in the infield alongside the tote board, on the massive simulcast network coverage and on television screens throughout the Hastings Racecourse complex.