The opening of the 2014 Thoroughbred season at Hastings Racecourse April 27 will officially mark the 125th anniversary of racing in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
An eight-race card featuring two $50,000 stakes—the George Royal and Brighouse Belles—is the first of 51 scheduled days of live racing, concluding Oct. 31. The Vancouver track also has four tentative dates reserved for later in October, depending on the meet's success.
"That is our goal," Hastings Racecourse general manager Darren MacDonald said. "It's a challenge we welcome."
According to the track, the first Thoroughbred race staged in Vancouver was held in 1889 in what was referred to as the Vancouver City Stakes. It was the first—and last—time Howe Street was used as a racetrack. A horse named Mayflower took home first-place money of $250.
Shortly thereafter horse racing moved to Hastings East Park, where the original infield was a collection of charred stumps and the barn area had one small stable the size of a two-car garage, according to the track. Two other major tracks were eventually built—Richmond's Minoru Park (later renamed Brighouse Park) in 1909 and Lansdowne Park in 1924—only Hastings Racecourse remains where all Thoroughbred racing in the Lower Mainland has been conducted since 1961.
Following the first race opening day, a ceremony will held at the track in memory of Hastings-based trainer Melanie Walters who died in February as a result of injuries in a training accident at her parent's farm in Langley.