Derby has its share of Canadian content
If you are wondering when would be a good time to go and watch horse racing at Hastings Racecourse, the answer is tomorrow.
Now you are asking yourself, what is so special about this Saturday? The answer in two words: Kentucky Derby.
Factor in watching live horse racing in perhaps the most picturesque setting in the Lower Mainland and add in the fact there is a chance you could go home with more money than you arrived with. Win or lose, you are in for an exciting afternoon.
And unlike past Kentucky Derbys, this one has become more special to local racing fans than any in the recent past.
For the first time when the horses arrive at the starting gate at 3:24 p.m., local racing fans will be pulling for Hastings two-time leading jockey Mario Gutierrez, whom they’ve become accustomed to rooting for since 2006.
His Derby mount, I’ll Have Another, will break from the unfavourable post 19, listed at 15-1 odds.
When asked if there was any other horse, he would prefer, Gutierrez replied confidently: “If I had the chance to ride any of these horses, I would still choose him.”
As for those looking for a Canadian connection, I’ll Have Another owner Paul Reddam is a native of Windsor, Ontario. And if you need another Canadian hook, I’ll Have Another has a chiropractor named Larry ‘Thumper’ Jones, who as a hockey player with the New Westminster Bruins won the Memorial Cup under Punch Mclean.
For an added confidence builder, the stable pony accompanying Gutierrez and I’ll Have Another was no stranger to pressure, having won over $5.2 million, including three Hollywood Gold Cups.
As for strategy, despite their poor post position and because Mario knows the horse, if he can duplicate his past two rides on I’ll Have Another by getting good position early without using his horse, the horse has enough good kick to give a good account of himself.
In a field many consider wide open, the Bob Baffert-trained Bodemeister, who set all the pace in winning the recent Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, is a lukewarm 9/2 favourite,
One horse worth watching is Gemologist, who still remains unbeaten in five starts and coming off a game victory in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in New York.
As for the effect Gutierrez fever is having at Hastings: “Kentucky Derby Day is always a big day for us,” said Raj Mutti, general manager at Hastings Racecourse. “Having Mario ride the race has made it bigger since he is kind of our local superstar that everyone is cheering for. LOCAL STARPUNCH
The live weekend on the local horse racing program features top three year olds looking to launch their way into possible B. C. Derby status when they meet in Saturday’s $50,000 Jim Coleman Province Stakes.
On Sunday, an outstanding field of 11 older horses compete in the Johnny Longden 6000.
Among familiar names competing: Nick and Giovanni Felicella’s Silly Fella; Tres Hombres Senor Rojo; Swift Thoroughbreds Inc. Crew Leader; NATHC St Liams Halo and last year’s B.C. Derby winner Roz Barclay’s Northern Causeway.