It might surprise you to know that he longest continually operating professional sports facility in Vancouver, British Colombia is a racetrack. Hastings Racecourse opened in 1889 as East Park and has continued to offer championship caliber thoroughbred racing every year since that time. Now owned by the City of Vancouver and leased to the Great Canadian Gaming Corporations since 2004, Hastings Racecourse continues a proud tradition of horseracing in Canada.
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A highlight of the racing calendar each year at Hastings Racecourse is the British Columbia Breeders’ Cup series of races. Similar in organization to the American Breeders’ Cup, the BC Breeders’ Cup begins on the first Monday in August which is a Canadian public holiday known as Civic Day. On that day Hastings Racecourse hosts a program of six races in different classes, very much like the US championships. The key difference, however, is that the British Columbia Breeders’ Cup series continues well into September, making it something akin to a racing carnival. As a part of the September program, the two most important races for three-year-old horses in Canada are conducted. These are the British Columbia Breeders’ Cup Oaks for fillies, and the British Columbia Breeders’ Cup Derby for colts. These races are very similar to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks in the United States.
Hastings Racecourse is one of the smaller ones to be found in thoroughbred racing. It is designed in an oval that is just five furlongs in length. The distance to the finish line from the last turn at the top of the stretch is a mere 513 feet. This makes for some exciting racing action, especially in longer events when horses must sometimes navigate three turns in order to complete a race.
One of the biggest success stories to emerge in the horseracing world in recent years began at Hastings Racecourse. Jockey Mario Gutierrez, a Mexican-born jockey, emigrated to Canada in 2006 and began his career at Hastings. The talented young rider was quick to elevate himself in the Canadian jockey colony and eventually moved to the States where he captured Triple Crown wins aboard I’ll Have Another in 2012. The young jockey made headlines again in 2016 with his win of the Kentucky Derby aboard Nyquist for trainer Doug O’Neill and owner J. Paul Reddam, the same connections who owned and trained I’ll Have Another.
As recent as 2011 there were discussions about closing down Hastings Racecourse due to dwindling racing revenues in Canada. A decision was reached before the end of the year that allowed the historic track to remain open. Don’t forget to check out the online racebooks we have reviewed!