This weekend includes the first Friday night start of the season

Opinion: Horses take off with the first Friday race card of the season at Hastings Racecourse.

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Hastings Racecourse is off to a strong start in terms of wagering. The all-sources live mutuel handle on Kentucky Derby Day was up 24 per cent compared with last year and there is hope that the trend will continue this weekend that includes the first Friday card of the season.

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Post time for the first of seven races is 7 p.m.

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It’s a decent card with a couple of intriguing races. There might not be the crowd everyone was hoping for due to the Vancouver Canucks playing the Edmonton Oilers in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs at about the same time that the races begin at Hastings.

“Things are looking good for our first Friday,” said Hastings general manager Ryan McCartney. “But we are aware the Canucks are playing, and we will be showing the game pretty much everywhere in the facility. We are all Canucks here and we will be rooting for them.”

The fourth race has drawn a strong field of five horses running in an allowance race for non-winners of three. Bakken Overdrive is the one to beat and his trainer, Cindy Krasner, likes the way the seven-year-old B.C. bred son of Bakken is coming into the race. This will be his first start since July 1.

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“He’s sharp and happy right now,” said Krasner. “He’s been training great all spring so he’s ready to go.”

Krasner should know. She has been one of the top trainers at Hastings for a long time and the veteran conditioner has an excellent record with fresh horses. According to Daily Racing Form’s Formulator, over the past five years Krasner has an excellent 25 per cent strike rate and $2.08 return on investment with horses coming off a layoff of 180 days or more.

As part of celebrating Mother’s Day weekend, B.C. Racebook is giving away three free memberships to the Hastings Racing Club. They’re worth $300 each and the benefits of being a horse owner include free parking and access to the backstretch where you can visit and maybe feed your horses carrots if inclined.

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Actually, one of the three horses currently owned by the Club is running in the last race Saturday. If Finding Ways wins, the new members will be able to be part of the victory celebration in the winner’s enclosure.

Two names will be drawn after the fifth race and one following the sixth.


RACE 3: An interesting maiden race for fillies and I’m leaning toward AVANA, who ran a decent race on grass in Southern California in her only start for owner Peter Redekop. Bred in B.C. by Bryan and Carol Anderson, Avana’s dam won on dirt and she is a half-to-three-time dirt winner Escapologist, who recently won at Oaklawn Park for Derby and Oaks-winning trainer Kenneth McPeek. Escapologist has banked $388,297, so the breeding is there for Avana to be a nice horse for trainer Barbara Heads.

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RACE 7: Going with a bit of a longshot here and if DYNAMITER wins, the Super HI-5 will pay a big price as it did last Saturday to the tune of $3,526. Trained by Larry Grieve for Wyn Racing Stables Corp., Dynamiter will need to have improved from last year, and from the way he has been training, it appears he has.


RACE 7: FINDING WAYS has been working fast for trainer Nancy Betts, runs well fresh and has enough speed to take advantage of his inside post. Catch him if you can.

Randy Goulding has been handicapping horses and writing for The Racing Form at Hastings Park for more than 30 years. His column will run every Friday throughout the racing season.

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