Industry Stakeholders BREAKING NEWS
Several developments to make you aware of:...…...
Great Canadian Gaming and the horsemen at Fraser Downs @ Elements have reached an agreement whereby horses currently stabled at Fraser Downs will be permitted to jog on the track, subject to the conditions that had been laid out previously. This will commence tomorrow (Saturday, April 4, 2020).
Also, discussions between Great Canadian and the thoroughbred sector are underway to determine when the Hastings track and backstretch might be reopened to permit stabling of horses and light exercise. More details will be communicated when they are available.
Finally, the BC Horse Racing Industry Management Committee has agreed to create an Emergency Task Force for BC Horse Racing.
The purpose of the task force is to provide a communications capability by which the BC horse racing industry and its stakeholders can be kept informed about industry developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic in a timely and accurate way.
The task force will meet by way of telephone conference call approximately weekly, and more frequently as required. Information of value to the industry will be communicated to stakeholders following meetings.
The membership of the task force is as follows: ( * denotes member of Horse Racing Industry Management Committee)
Great Canadian Gaming Corp. (Track Operator)
Chuck Keeling *
Darren MacDonald, Regional Director, BC Racing
Glen Todd *
Ole Nielsen, president, BC TOBA
David Milburn, president, HBPA BC
Ross Sharp *
Kelly MacMillan, breeder, and board member of Harness Racing BC
Lynda Atkinson, breeder, and board member, Horse Council of BC
Brian Butters, Interim Chair, HRIMC *
Bill McNeill, GPEB, non-voting member of HRIMC *
The first meeting of the Emergency Task Force will take place early next week.
Interim Chair BC Horse Racing Industry Management Committee
MONDAY, MARCH 30
Letter to the Thoroughbred Horse Industry
The COVID-19 worldwide health crisis has caused difficulties, misfortune, and hardship to not only our Racing Industry but
all of Society in general.
Everyone and everything has been affected.
The BC and Vancouver State of Emergency(s) for health reasons has seen businesses, government agencies, restaurants, schools, parks etc all closed on a temporary basis and social distancing restrictions imposed on all of us.
The effect on horseracing has been the closure of the Fraser Downs and Hasting Racecourse Casinos as well as all of the TBC sites, the suspension of training and the postponement of the Hastings Racing Season.
While the Government and City restrictions are still currently in place there is reason for optimism given the recent comments from Dr Bonnie Henry, BCís Chief Medical Health Officer and Prime Minister Trudeau saying that the restrictions are beginning to work and the numbers are indicating a flattening of the curve. Even though these health measures will likely remain in place for several more weeks, there appears to be a growing realization that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
To all of us involved in Racing this means once the restrictions are lessened or lifted we can return to the business of training and racing our horses. It is our expectation that Hastings will reopen for training in the not too distant future with the commencement of the Racing Season to follow.
While we need TBC and the Casinos to come on line to add monies to the Purse Account we do currently have sufficient funds on hand to run a shortened season even without those revenue sources.
There have been rumours circulating that GCGC is trying to end racing and take us all out of business.
These rumours are not true. We have been advised by Great Canadian that they remain committed to Racing and have assured us that they will work with us in reopening Hastings for training and establishing a starting date for the Racing Season at the earliest possible time once there is some relief from the health restrictions.
It will take courage, determination, and resolve on the part of all of us to get though these difficult times but we will succeed in the end.
With that success will come the resumption of training and Racing at Hastings Racecourse.
There will be regular updates in the days ahead.
Good Luck to all,
Glen Todd BCHRIMC
David Milburn President HBPA of BC
Ole Nielsen President BC Toba
Grant Watson President CTHS of BC
SUNDAY, MARCH 29
RACING ASSOCIATIONS ANNOUNCE TWO INCENTIVE PROGRAMS WITH FUNDING AVAILABLE THIS WEEK
The HBPA and BCTOBA are offering two programs to get money immediately in the hands of owners to help with some of the costs of spring training. The associations realize the shutdown of training at Hastings Racecourse has been very costly to many owners during this worldwide health crisis.
To aid the owners they are offering advance funding on the Wintering Program and horses that are eligible will receive $1750.00 in advance of the $3500.00 available.
Also to aid all of owners who are BC Residents a one time payment of $1000.00 is available to all horses that were in training and have to have shutdown for now. Horses receiving the Wintering Program are not eligible for both programs.
See the forms below in today’s newsletter. Cut and Paste them, fill them out and forward to Cristan Gossen at
Cristan will get you the money as soon as possible. More later on the how we are going to get you the funding via mail or direct deposit or ?
Applications for the above incentives can be found here. Wintering Program 2020 Postponement Program
CTHS (BC DIVISION) ANNOUNCE BROODMARE INCENTIVE PROGRAM
To All BC Breeders and Buyers of BC-breds
The CTHS BC Board of Directors is aware of the issues facing breeders and owners due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are working diligently to find ways of helping not only our members, but the industry as a whole. We have had discussions with representatives from both the Department of Agriculture and the Attorney General’s Office about reopening Hastings to training and financial aid for breeders who are facing very difficult decisions. This has been done with the full support of our Industry partners, the HBPA and BCTOBA, as well as our industry representative on the management committee, Glen Todd. Their continued support makes what seems like an impossible task possible.
The first program is for immediate assistance to anyone who breeds to a registered BC sire. Our goal is to get the money in breeders’ hands ASAP. We cannot wait for the Government to decide on assistance. Breeding season will be over if we wait. We are acting now so you can as well.
Some stallion farms have already reduced their fees for 2020 to help breeders. These discounts will not change the amount of funds available to the breeder. Everyone will be eligible for the full $1,500. This program will also take in mares already bred to BC sires. It is retroactive to the start of the 2020 breeding season.
The second program is an existing program that we usually confirm closer to the sale. We have asked for government assistance for the sale, but want to make sure everyone knows that the $1,500 sales credit that was in place last year will once again be offered this year. Our goal is to see that the amount is increased, but until the government decides on assistance, we can only commit to $1,500.
Details of the two programs, which the CTHS BC is pleased to announce are as follows:
2020 BREEDER INCENTIVE PROGRAM
To be eligible you must be a BC resident.
To qualify for the program mares must be bred to a registered BC sire.
All mares will be eligible.
Breeders will receive:
$500 when a mare is booked and covered by a registered BC sire.
$1,000 when the mare is confirmed in foal by a veterinarian by ultrasound.
A letter of commitment to sell the resulting foal or foals in a sale conducted by the CTHS (BC Division) or race it in British Columbia must accompany the application for funds.
Breeders receiving funds under this program that do not sell the resulting foal agree that their foal’s papers will be retained by the race office at Hastings Racecourse until the end of the foal’s two-year-old race season.
Confirmation from the applicant breeder must be supplied to the CTHS (BC Division) for both stallion booking and last cover date, as well as in-foal status by the veterinarian.
Repayment of funds received under this program will release the papers.
BC-BRED YEARLING PURCHASE INCENTIVE PROGRAM – 2020
Each purchaser of a BC-bred yearling at the CTHS (BC Division) 2020 Yearling & Mixed Sale will immediately receive a credit of up to $1,500 towards the purchase price, excluding applicable taxes.
The program will provide a credit for 50% of the purchase price of a BC-bred up to maximum benefit of $1,500. The program will provide a minimum of $1,000 credit for any BC-bred selling in the 2020 CTHS (BC Division) Sale for $2,000 or less. As further examples: a horse selling for $2,500 will generate a credit of $1,250; a horse selling for $3,000 or more will receive the maximum $1,500.
In order to receive this credit, the buyer must commit to leaving the registration papers in the Hastings Race Office for the entirety of the 2021 Hastings Racing Season.
The registration papers will be released for the sole purpose of the horse running in a stake race in another jurisdiction, but for no other reason. Immediately following the stake race the registration papers must be returned to the Hastings Race Office.
Repayment of all funds releases the papers to the owner at any time prior to the end of the 2021 Hastings Racing Season.
Buy backs are not eligible for this incentive.
To qualify the yearling must be a registered BC-bred who is sold to a third-party purchaser either at the time of the CTHS (BC Division) sale through the sales ring or by noon on the day following the sale. All BC-bred yearlings sold after the sale, but before noon the following day will be eligible for the credit of up to $1,500 as long as the sale goes through and is confirmed by the CTHS (BC Division) sales office and appears on the official sales results sheet for publication.
Grant Watson, President
CTHS BC Division
Mark Your Calender
Opening April 26 Closing Oct 14
BC Cup Day Monday, August 3
BC Derby Day Saturday, September 12
Opening April 18 Closing September 20
Longacres Mile Day Sunday, August 9
Opening April 25 Closing August 30
Canadian Derby Sunday, August 23
Opening September 6
Closing October 25
Opening December 28 Closing June 21
Santa Anita Big Cap Day Saturday, March 7
Santa Anita Derby Day Saturday April 4
Opening July 18 Closing September 7
Opening October 31 November 29
Hastings CTHS-BC Spring Paddock Sale
Preview March 7 Sale March 14
CTHS Yearling and Mixed Sale
Preview September 14 Sale September 15
Kentucky Derby Saturday, May 2, 2020
Preakness Saturday, May 16, 2020
Belmont Saturday, June 6, 2020
Breeders Cup November 6, 7, 2020
Keeneland Race Course
Derby Bar and Grill
Daily Racing Form
Florida Thoroughbred Breeders/Owners
Horse Players Association
Horse Racing Nation
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25th
HASTINGS RACING NEWS RELEASE
Great Canadian does recognize the concern related to some horse people not being able to find appropriate stabling for their horses as it relates to Great Canadian’s need to vacate the two backstretches. Keeping in mind our overarching concern is the health and safety of everyone involved at the two tracks, while being consistent with the direction from the provincial medical officer, we are proposing the following:
Great Canadian Gaming Corp. will allow the facilities to stay open, but no training will be allowed. Access to the track itself will be allowed for walking their horses, but no exercising/training
Great Canadian Gaming Corp. will be bringing in third party security, and those costs will be charged back to the breed associations
The onus will be on the respective breed associations to aim for a 50% reduction in the number of horses at each track from current numbers, with the goal to be approximately 25% of the original horse population remaining after April 1st
Great Canadian Gaming Corp. will limit the number of people on each backstretch to 50 at any one time, or a number lower based on direction from the provincial government or health authorities, inclusive of those domiciled at each track.
This will also require “sign in, sign out” privileges at the front gate at each backstretch
Anyone displaying flu-like symptoms will be denied entry to the backstretch, or will be asked to leave if on the backstretch
Everyone on the backstretch will be mandated, at all times, to practice social distancing
Each individual accessing the backstretch will have to sign a waiver that accounts for the following:
They will comply with all of our rules
They will comply with all prevailing health authority orders
They will indemnify GCGC, the facility, and the respective city (Vancouver or Surrey, as property owners).
Contravention of any of the above will lead to the removal of any individual immediately from the backstretch, as well as the removal of their horses within 72 hours.
GREAT CANADIAN GAMING NOTICE
March 19, 2020
Great Canadian, in consultation with the BC Horse Racing Management Committee, agreed this morning to allow for the continuation of training at both tracks until March 31st, with the following conditions:
Only essential horsepeople to be allowed in the backstretch areas and facilities
Great Canadian will only provide the essential personnel to maintain training conditions and the operation of the stabling areas
Horsepeople will not interact in any physically proximate way with Great Canadian personnel, under any circumstances
If certain personnel refuse to work for safety purposes, horse people recognize that may impact ongoing operations prior to April 1st
Social distancing measures will be undertaken by horsepeople at all times, and it is Great Canadian’s understanding that this will be enforced by GPEB
Horsepeople will commit to good personal hygiene and cleanliness of the stabling areas they frequent (tack rooms, shed rows, etc.) at all times
The backstretches of both tracks will be vacated of horses by April 1st, and on a “best efforts” basis of personnel domiciled on the backstretches by April 1st.
We again appreciate the cooperation of all horsepeople to ensure the orderly shutdown of the backstretches at both tracks under these very challenging conditions, and Great Canadian remains committed to restoring racing operations once the necessary authorities deem it safe to do so.
We would appreciate acknowledgement and agreement by email to the above.
Regional Director, BC Racing
A STATEMENT FROM NEW STRIDE THOROUGHBRED
March 19, 2020
Horseracing in BC and COVID-19 | Retiring your horse? We’re here to help.
New Stride Thoroughbred Adoption Society is fully aware of the current uncertainty facing British Columbia’s horseracing community, and we want you to know that we are here to help in any way that we are feasibly able.
While we all know that every horse owner has a duty of care for their horse, we also understand that in times of extremes, some horses may fall through the cracks. These are the horses we collectively need to be aware of and do everything within our power to help.
As always, we encourage owners and trainers to independently seek out placement in a good home.
While New Stride is not a horse rescue society and remains very much committed to the long-term repurposing and adoption of Thoroughbred racehorses, we will discuss the needs of any owners or trainers who may find themselves in some doubt as to their ability to continue to take care of their horses.
Even if we are not able to place your horse directly, we can offer assistance to Thoroughbred owners outside the racing community in the form of information, advice and free advertising of horses for sale on our website.
We cannot emphasize enough that it is the sacred responsibility of every horse owner to care for the welfare of the horses they own, regardless of whether racing continues or not. However, if you have a horse, or know of a horse who you believe may need our help in the current circumstances, please contact us via email at or via our website, http://www.newstride.com/contact.html
Please be aware that New Stride is run almost exclusively by volunteers with a modest budget that may limit our capacity.
If you are able and compelled to take action during these difficult times, please know that 100% of your gift to New Stride goes directly to the horses’ needs. We are grateful.
About New Stride:
New Stride is a registered charity dedicated to finding adoptive homes and alternative careers for Thoroughbred racehorses no longer able to compete. The charity was founded at Hastings Racecourse in 2002 by a group of concerned owners, breeders and backstretch workers who sought to provide opportunities for a dignified retirement for as many Thoroughbreds as possible.
During its existence New Stride has placed over 160 Thoroughbreds into adoptive homes and assisted many owners and trainers in connecting horses coming off the track with opportunities for new careers and homes.
Attention: Thoroughbred Horsepeople
March 17, 2020
As you are all aware, Great Canadian, in conjunction with the BC Lottery Corporation, has closed all Great Canadian gaming facilities in the Province, which includes all front side operations at Hastings Racecourse. We are monitoring the COVID – 19 situation very closely with our focus being on the safety of our guests, team members and horsepeople. We understand how crucial preseason training is for thoroughbred racehorses, and with that in mind the backstretch and training will remain open at Hastings. We will work closely with the breed association’s representatives to ensure we are offering the essential services that are required to prepare for the season.
It is of the utmost importance that we limit access to the backstretch to those deemed critical in the care and training of the racehorses. We must all practice social distancing and avoid unnecessary contact to ensure the safety of all involved in the industry. We will expect everyone to work together and restrict admittance to the backstretch only to those that are essential to the training and care of racehorses.
As the situation with COVID – 19 has remained so fluid and ever-changing, discussions regarding the racing season will take place in early April and decisions will be made at this time. This is a very challenging time for everyone in this industry, and many more around the country. We thank you for your patience and understanding during this unprecedented period.
Regional Director, BC Racing
Emerald Downs Update
March 16, 2020
Information for our Guests:
Effective immediately, Emerald Downs is closed to the public until further notice.
We realize this affects our staff and our guests.
It is our intention to have a race meet in 2020, however when that can happen is unknown at the time and not within our control.
We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.
Santa Anita Park And Golden Gate Fields To Temporarily Close To The Public In Response Due To COVID-19
With the utmost regard for the safety and well-being of our customers and employees and in following the best available guidance from local and international health authorities, Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields will temporarily close to the public effective immediately.
Both tracks will continue live racing as scheduled with personnel licensed by the California Horse Racing Board in attendance
The 146th Kentucky Derby will be rescheduled from
May 2, 2020 to September 5, 2020
March 17, 2020
The 146th Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve will be rescheduled from May 2, 2020 to September 5, 2020 and the 146th Longines Kentucky Oaks will be rescheduled from May 1, 2020 to September 4, 2020. These dates are contingent upon final approval from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission which we expect to receive on Thursday, March 19.
Churchill Downs Incorporated CEO, Bill Carstanjen, stated: “Throughout the rapid development of the COVID-19 pandemic, our first priority has been how to best protect the safety and health of our guests, team members and community. As the situation evolved, we steadily made all necessary operational adjustments to provide the safest experience and environment. The most recent developments have led us to make some very difficult, but we believe, necessary decisions and our hearts are with those who have been or continue to be affected by this pandemic.
GPEB Office Hours
Please be advised that the GPEB office in the Race Office Building will be open to accept applications for Horse Racing Licence and
registration during February and March 2020 as follows.
Wednesday’s from 7am to 2pm
Thursday’s from 7am to 2pm
Friday’s from 7am to 2pm
Saturdays from 6am to 1pm
Please note change to the notice below.
Horses can now be moved in from 4pm onwards Saturday, February 8th
In the News
2020 HASTINGS STAKES SCHEDULE
OFFERS PURSES TOTALING $2.15 MILLION
CTHS-BC Introducing Bonuses
In BC Maiden Special Weight Series
By Greg Douglas
Vancouver, BC (Feb. 21/20) – The 2020 Stakes Schedule at Hastings Racecourse will be worth $2.15 million in purse money over the course of a 51-day live racing calendar that begins Sunday, April 26 and runs through Sunday, October 18.
There are 36 stakes races on the agenda with the highlight being the 75th running of the $150,000 Grade 3 BC Derby on Saturday, September 12. The newly-named $100,000 Canmor BC Oaks co-headlines Derby/Oaks Day along with two long-standing $50,000 stakes: the SW Randall Plate and Delta Colleen.
BC Cup Day on the holiday Monday, August 3 will once again be the busiest stakes day of the season with the Pacific Customs Brokers BC Cup Classic and Pacific Customs Brokers BC Cup Distaff, BC Cup Nursery, BC Cup Debutante, Sir Winston Churchill Derby Trial and Hong Kong Jockey Club – all with $50,000 purses – and the $20,000 BC Cup Marathon.
Derby/Oaks Day and BC Cup Day both have early 12:50 p.m. start times rather than the customary 1:50 p.m. afternoon starts.
The four CTHS-BC Sales stakes, each with $50,000 purses, are set for Monday, August 24 at 6:00 p.m. President Grant Watson announced the CTHS-BC will be sponsoring an 18-race Maiden Special Weight series over the season with a $10,000 bonus in each race for BC-breds finishing in the top three. The bonus money will be allocated with 63 per cent for first place, 25 per cent for second and 12 per cent for third with a 50-50 split between the breeder and owner.
“We felt these bonuses are very important to both British Columbia breeders and owners,” Watson said. “It is vital that owners and potential owners of BC-bred horses know that the BC breeders appreciate their support.”
Darren MacDonald, Director, BC Racing, thanked Pacific Customs Brokers, Canmor Farms’ Ole Nielsen and CTHS-BC for supporting the stakes program at Hastings. “There’s no question their participation plays a huge role in our success,” MacDonald said.
A full breakdown of the program will be published in the Hastings Stakes Book that will be coming out in early March.
The 2020 CTHS-BC Horses of Racing Age Sale has a list of 22 horses prepared for the Preview at Hastings Racecourse on Saturday, March 7 at 12 noon. The Sale is set for Saturday, March 14 at noon at Hastings.
The 2020 Stakes Schedule and 2020 Racing Calendar are available online at www.hastingsracecourse.com
For further information:
Director, BC Racing
FRESH START FOR HASTINGS RACECOURSE
BEGINS WITH OPENING DAY ON APRIL 26
By Greg Douglas
Lease Extension Fuels Horsemen’s Enthusiasm
Vancouver, BC January 30, 2020
The word ‘new’ is a key element to the official announcement of the 2020 live racing season that launches on Sunday afternoon April 26 at Hastings Racecourse.
For starters, there is a new five-year lease extension with a five-year option in place for Hastings Racecourse with the City of Vancouver, ensuring the sustainability of the industry over the next five years and beyond.
“It is certainly a giant step in the right direction,” said David Milburn, President of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA). “We can only continue to grow from here.”
That growing stage will involve recently-appointed Regional Director, BC Racing Darren MacDonald working in concert with new Hastings Racecourse General Manager Michael Zerebeski, responsible for overall operations at both the racecourse and casino.
MacDonald, who was GM at Hastings Racecourse the past six years, will focus on improving wagering, field sizes and other key elements at both Hastings Racecourse and Fraser Downs towards the overall advancement of the racing product in British Columbia.
His most recent challenge has involved monitoring the installation of a new inner rail at Hastings Racecourse by the U.S. patented Rider Protection System.
“We are very pleased that everything has lined up and we were able to get the new rail installed for the 2020 season,” MacDonald said. “This particular rail has been installed at most major race tracks in North America and is proven to provide a great deal of safety for both riders and horses. A lot of people have worked very hard to make a tight deadline become a reality at Hastings.”
Hastings Racecourse opens for stall set-up on February 7 with the move-in of horses on February 9 and the start of training February 11.
With the first of 51 race dates set for April 26 at 1:50 p.m., Zerebeski is planning to heighten the level of entertainment throughout the season by adding more events to complement the thrill of thoroughbred racing.
“We will be reaching out to racing fans of all ages with exciting new events to enhance our mandate of continuing to be recognized as a popular Vancouver entertainment destination,” he says. “Customer satisfaction will be top of mind with each and every visit to our facility throughout the coming season.”
Zerebeski joined the Hastings Racecourse team as Manager, Human Resources in September, 2018 after holding key management positions at the Westin Grand Vancouver and Hotel Squamish/Lanarkshire Group.
The 2020 live racing calendar primarily features Saturday and Sunday afternoon cards from April 26 through October 18 along with statutory holidays including Victoria Day on Monday, April 18, Canada Day on Wednesday, July 1, and BC Day on Monday, August 3. The popular Friday Night Live cards begin on July 24 and run through September 4 – seven in number.
The highlight of the Hastings Racecourse calendar continues to be the BC Cup on Monday, August 3 and the BC Derby & BC Oaks on Saturday, September 12.
Special events on racing days will once again include the Bulldog Races (May 23-24), Corgi Races (June 27-28) and Wiener Dog Races (July 11-12). Another ‘must do’ at Hastings will be the celebration of the 12th annual Deighton Cup on Saturday, July 18, heralded by social media entertainment journalists as “Vancouver’s most stylish event of the summer when a good old-fashion day at the races includes fine food, craft cocktails and live entertainment.”
The 2020 Live Racing Calendar including the special events lineup is attached for your reference.
For further information:
Regional Director BC Racing
HASTINGS RACING CLUB
Dear Racing Club Members,
It often doesn’t feel like it, but winter is finally on the wane and we are this week welcoming horses back to Hastings to begin their serious preparation for the new season – how quickly it comes around!
So, now begins the exciting task of asking you all to finalize your plans for the season and to send us those all-important memberships fees!
We all had plenty of fun with Club I again this year but, unlike previous seasons, there was no club dividend for Club I members due from 2019 and so Club I members who wish the renew should complete the attached membership form and return it to the address on the form, along with a cheque for $300.00.
Club II, as we know, fared far better than it had done in previous seasons and, for Club II members, there is a dividend due of $149.68 per individual membership, meaning that the 2020 fee for last season’s Club II members is $150.68.
The cost of membership for 2020 will be $300 and, while this price reflects a modest increase over 2019, we’re sure you’ll agree that with the horses we have, this still represents outstanding value.
We hope everyone who was involved with the Hastings Racing Club in 2019 will want to re-join in 2020 and don’t forget to tell all your friends what they’re missing out on!
We’d obviously like to finalize the memberships for the 2020 season as early as we can prior to the beginning of the new season and we’d therefore appreciate your prompt return of membership dues, so that you can be included in all correspondence going forwards.
You can download the application form here: https://bit.ly/39oZcwC
In other news, Mark went out to see Richard’s Command recently and reports that Mark Cloutier is delighted with the way she’s coming along. She has nice cold legs and is a friendly sort who welcomes plenty of attention – which is just as well!
A final decision on who will train “Juicey” is still to be made, but in the meantime she continues her pre-training with Mark at Canmor.
In the meantime, we’d like to thank you all once again for the patience you’ve all shown as we’ve tried to streamline the club in order to increase the enjoyment levels for everyone involved, and we can’t wait to see you all on the backstretch, the paddock and, with luck, the winner’s circle before too long!
SEE YOU AT THE RACES!
Mark, Matt & Nigel
SHOCKING PASSING OF TOM WOLSKI
LEAVES LOCAL RACING FAMILY IN
By Greg Douglas
Vancouver, B.C. January 20, 2020
One of the most recognizable and popular personalities known to the horse racing industry in British Columbia passed away today in a Naples, Florida hospital.
Tom Wolski, an honoured member of the BC Horse Racing Hall of Fame, was visiting family in Florida when he suffered a massive heart attack and underwent major bypass surgery. He was in a medically- induced coma this past weekend and was listed in critical condition. The family advises he will be cremated and laid to rest with his mother in Florida.
Tommy, as he was known to his legion of friends and fans, finished his career as a jockey with more than 500 wins at various tracks throughout North America and was a main attraction at Hastings Racecourse during the 1970s and 1980s. When he hung up his tack for a final time, he became well-known in the Vancouver media for more than 30 years as a horse racing columnist in The Province newspaper and a radio show host on CJOR, along with his weekly television show on Shaw and CityTV, The Sport of Kings.
“Tommy was an absolutely unrelenting positive force for racing,” said David Milburn, president of The Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association of BC (HBPA). “He got along well with everyone and had nothing negative to say, always looking for the best in everything and everyone.”
Former BC Attorney General Wally Oppal, a friend of 30 years, said: “Tommy didn’t have a mean bone in his body. He was a guy everybody instantly loved because of his effervescent personality. We spent a lot of time together at Puccini’s Italian Restaurant on Main Street back in the day when it was a meeting place for media and sports personalities. Everyone gravitated to him.” Puccini’s, now part of Vancouver history, was owned by the Teti brothers, John and Ronnie, who became life-long friends of Wolski.
When he was inducted into the BC Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2014, Wolski told Daily Racing Form correspondent Randy Goulding: “I’ve always wanted to bring the people in the backstretch closer to racing fans. It’s a different world back there and people find it fascinating.”
It was that same fascination that drew Wolski to the sport when he saw his first race at the age of 10 at Suffolk Downs in his native Boston, Mass. Four years later he was a hotwalker, then groom and eventually began galloping horses for trainer O.L. Foster. After leaving home and having dropped out of school, he was literally sleeping in the barns.
“Mr. Foster asked me my shoe size, looked me up and down and said, ‘yep, I’ll put you to work’ and gave me my first job. I rode my first race at Lincoln Downs in Rhode Island and lost in a photo finish.”
In later years, Wolski related the racing business was different when he was a teenager and apprentice jockeys could have their contracts sold to another trainer.
Sold, or in Wolski’s case, have his name thrown into a poker pot to make up for a trainer’s shortage of betting funds. “That’s how I wound up in Rhode Island,” Wolski revealed years later. “My trainer lost me in a poker game.”
Wolski wrote his ‘Hoss Talk’ column in The Province for more than 30 years and enjoyed hosting his television show from 2002 thru 2010. “He was small in stature but had a huge influence on people,” says his producer at the time, Howard Jones. “Once you met Tom Wolski, you never forgot him.”
He will long be remembered and revered by his racing family, with plans underway for a deserving celebration of life once the 2020 thoroughbred season gets underway in April at Hastings Racecourse.
For further information:
Greg Douglas, Media Relations
The purposes of the association are;
To represent all members in dealing with Racing Associations with respect to purse contracts, the negotiation of purse contracts, the improvement of facilities, and all other matters of interest and benefit to members.
To take part and advise with Racing Associations, Racing Commissions, governmental departments and agencies and other racing organizations in the establishment of proper rules and conditions which affect in any manner the interests of members, their employees and backstretch personnel.
To work for the improvement of living conditions of members, their employees and backstretch personnel. Within such limits as may be determined from time to time by the directors of the Association.
To aid financially in the care of indigent members, their employees and backstretch personnel.
To assist worthy members and other persons who have been associated with thoroughbred racing and who, because of age, physical disability, illness or other reasons have become incapable of self-support.
To care for and to relieve poverty and distress of such worthy members and other persons and their immediate families. To institute or aid in any movement that will aid or protect the general welfare of the racing industry, the interests of members and their employees, and of backstretch personnel.
To support any officer, director or member acting officially for the Association, who has been discriminated against in the allocation of stalls or otherwise on account of his activities on behalf of the Association.
To create, establish and maintain funds to promote any of the foregoing: and For any of the foregoing purposes, to acquire, receive, dispose of and otherwise deal in any way with real and personal property of all types and to do all the things conducive to the attainment of any such
To bring about a closer and more understanding relationship between members, Racing Associations, Racing Commissions and the public.
As soon as a new racing schedule is ready
"Hot Summer Racitg" dates will be posted
Postponed until further notice