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Friday, May 24, 2019Hoss Talk 


High atop the grandstand at Hastings senior steward Wayne Russel, gets ready for one last look of the horses at the races, before retiring. – South End Photos

After being involved in horse racing literally his entire life, Wayne Russell – senior steward at Hastings Racecourse representing GPEB (Gaming Policy & Entertainment Division of the Ministry of Finance) – announced his retirement last Monday.

Russell worked in many facets of the horse industry over the years and will be missed not only by friends but also those who appeared before him in his role as a steward over the past 20 years.

Racing stewards are in the same role as hockey, football and basketball referees. They are responsible for making sure all the rules are being followed properly and take action when a rule is violated.

“You have to be able to listen and hear people out whether it is a rider, trainer or someone else appearing before you,” Wayne explains.

He goes on to say: “One never disqualifies a horse unless the facts are clear.  Our failure to do our job well is just as serious than the act of a careless jockey.  We watch the race in question from start to finish and judge the incident.  We are not seeking an excuse to disqualify a horse but rather a reason not to do so.  

“In borderline cases we let the results stand and deal with the jockey.  Just because contact occurs in race does not automatically mean there will be a disqualification.  If the rules are followed properly then things will be fine.  We survey an entire race to determine if an incident cost a horse its placing.  And jockeys can be penalized even if their number does not come down.”

Russell will remain close to horses in his retirement from Hastings. He’s looking forward to duties as a barrel judge with the World Professional Chuckwagon Canadian circuit that is already underway on the prairies.

“Wayne always did a good job when it came to adjudicating issues of inquiries and disqualifications,” says trainer Peter Milburn.

Those sentiments are echoed by many.

CONSISTENCY: Although it’s early into this racing season, there are already some interesting individual match-ups going on with Amadeo Perez leading the jockey standings with 11 wins and Enrique Gonzalez with nine.  Both riders have Trapper Barroby as their agent.  “They are hard workers and want to be the leading jockey this year,” says Barroby. “They are also the best of friends … how nice is that?”

Jockey agent Trapper Barroby who books rides for jockeys Amadeo Perez and Enrique Gonzalez goes over there scheduled mounts for the afternoon. Photo Michael Bye.

Newcomer Denny Velazquez has been getting a lot of attention of late following three winners on the holiday weekend to give him a total of seven.  Veteran Jeff Burningham, perhaps the hardest working jockey on the grounds, rode two winners last Monday.

The trainer’s category has Phil Hall with seven wins and Glen Todd with six.  Terry Clyde scored three wins on the weekend to bring her total to five.

Former Horse of the Year Here’s Hanna with jockey Richard Hamel in the saddle, shown winning one of four major stakes in 2018 – Four Footed Fotos

NOTES ON A PROGRAM:  The popular Bulldog races return to Hastings this weekend with heats between the thoroughbred races Saturday and Sunday.  Two major $50,000 stakes are on the weekend agenda.   Former Horse of the Year – BC Stables and Paul Caravetta’s Here’s Hannah – makes her 2019 debut in the Vancouver Sun Handicap Saturday while Sunday’s card features the George Royal Stakes.  Start times both days:  1:50 p.m.

'Special thanks to Horsemen and Owners at Hastings Racecourse for their valuable support promoting this wonderful sport!'




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Enjoy this week's column (Friday, May 3, 2019)


This weekend marks the 130th season of live horse racing at Hastings Racecourse and that itself calls for a celebration at the local east-end racetrack.

Even more, was that dismal weather local horsemen had to deal with. Impressive enough to make you want to tip your hat off to both management and horsemen for working together and making this elite afternoon of horse racing reality and be nothing short of a miracle?

To open this weekend the industry put together an extraordinary racing program that includes a full card of eight races, with nearly every one of them, almost filled to the maximum of horses allowed. 

In fact, horsemen were thrilled knowing Racing Secretary, Nichelle Milner had included four major $50,000 Stakes, the Brighouse Belles, Swift Thoroughbreds Inaugural, Jim Coleman and Ross McLeod on that race card.

On Saturday fans will see many of the best horses fit and ready to run entered for that card including,  Under Par, Dancin Shoes, Summerland, Dat Day, Weekend Wizard, Driller, Calgary Caper all Divisional Champions from last year. Along with the 2017 Horse of the Year, Daz Lin Dawn. 
2017 Horse of the Year George Gilbert’s Summerland heading back to her barn with regular jockey Enrique Gonzalez riding   

Also on Saturday’s eight-race card, the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby. 

Or known by many as the 'Run For the Roses. It’s that one race where everyone involved in sports has a dream of winning. This year's purse has been bumped up to $3,000,000 from $2million.

And with a 20 horse field running, don’t expect any standout With the early favorite Omaha  Beach (4-1) recently scratched due to a  trapped epiglottis, which could impact his ability to breathe.

Drawing into the race is longshot Bodexpress (30-1).

And with only three horses under 10-1. There’s a good chance this Derby, will be won by a horse with large odds.

Keep in mind, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has three horses running and is going for his sixth Kentucky Derby victory.

Or better yet, close your eyes and pick a horse from the racing program, maybe not a bad option for this race.

FAN FAVOURITES: Fifteen jockeys have applied for a license to ride this season at Hastings, including last years, leading rider Amadeo Perez (57), Enrique Gonzalez ((47) and top Apprentice jockey Lenny Seecharan.

JOCK TALK: Stewards at Hasting has reported 15 jockeys have applied for licenses this season, among them last years top riders Amadeo Perez (57), Enrique Perez (47) and Antonio Reeves (33).

Not returning are jockeys Aaron Gryder (43), Denis Araujo (36) and Sirhan Civaci (28) who opted to ride elsewhere.  
Among new faces are Danny Velázquez arriving from Turf Paradise to ride for owner Glen Todd. And jockey Keishan Balgobin deciding to return after riding the past few years in Alberta.

HAZARDS OF RIDING: The last thing any jockey needs to happen is to be injured in a fall. In two separate morning workouts and within days of each other jockeys Alex Marti and Ruben Lara received injuries in two separate spills. While not career threatening both appear upbeat despite missing the early part of this season at Hastings.
Despite being injured within days of each other, jockeys Ruben Lara and Alex Marti still remain optimistic about their future season at Hastings
2017 Horse of the Year George Gilbert’s Summerland heading back to her barn with regular jockey Enrique Gonzalez riding  

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS: Fans can also expect to see many of the human champions of racing back in action this season.

Trainer Phil Hall (40) returns is back with a strong stable to defend his title (Wins). And runner up Mike Anderson 29) Mark Cloutier (28) and Glen Todd (28) also have powerful barns. Also, Top  Breeder Todd Mountain Thoroughbreds are back with a strong stable. 

'Special thanks to Horsemen and Owners at Hastings Racecourse for their valuable support promoting this wonderful sport!'




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