There are so many intriguing storylines behind Saturday's 74th running of the BC Derby and 56th edition of the BC Oaks at Hastings Racecourse, it is a challenge to know where to begin.
An ideal start might be Peter Redekop, the 84-year-old owner/breeder who's been a major part of the local thoroughbred scene for more than five decades. This past spring Mr. Redekop – a member of the BC Racing Hall of Fame – made an unexpected announcement that he would personally be increasing the guaranteed purse for Saturday's Grade 3 BC Derby to $250,000 from $150,000 by simply saying: “We've got to get more people in the racing industry to notice us.
Redekop obviously has a soft spot for the BC Derby, considering he remains the only owner to have captured the prestigious race on four occasions, including three in a row during an outstanding run from 2012 with Second City trained by Craig MacPherson and ridden by Richard Hamel; 2013 with Title Contender trained by Anita Bolton, ridden by Rico Walcott; 2014 with Alert Bay and the same trainer/jockey combination of Bolton and Walcott.
Redekop's first Derby win was in 1994 with Squire Jones, trained by Lance Geisbrecht and ridden by Buddy Winnett, Jr.
Team Redekop, with a lineup that includes Peter's nephew James Redekop, racing manager Dr. Bryan Anderson and Hastings leading trainer Phil Hall, will be gunning for a fifth BC Derby victory Saturday sending Final Jeopardy (Enrique Gonzalez) to the starting gate as one of the top three morning line favourites at 3-to-1. Ole Nielsen's Canadian Derby winner Explode (Amadeo Perez) is listed at 2-to-1 with Glen Todd's Five Star General (Mario Gutierrez) at 5-to-2 among an impressive starting field of nine.
Final Jeopardy was the 6-to-5 Canadian Derby favourite at Century Mile in Edmonton on August 18 but settled for third as Explode and Chicago invader Journeyman finished in what was described as “a bumper-car stretch drive”.
Journeyman, who is not running in the BC Derby, crossed the wire on top by a neck in the $250,000 Canadian Derby but was disqualified by the stewards for interference. That resulted in the Vancouver connection of Nielsen, trainer Mark Cloutier and jockey Amadeo Perez celebrating in the winner's circle.
The $100,000 BC Oaks for three-year-old fillies also has a competitive field of nine with Im Evin Im Leavin – winner of the August 17 Century Casino Oaks at Century Mile – among the morning line favourites at 7-to-2, She's trained by Greg Tracy and ridden by veteran Edmonton jockey Rico Walcott.
The $50,000 stakes include Here's Hannah – undefeated in 11 starts at Hastings – the heavy favourite in the Delta Colleen for fillies and mares in the three-year-olds and upward division. Here's Hannah is trained by John Morrison with regular rider Richard Hamel trying to extend her home winning streak to 12.
Hamel also gets the call aboard He's the Reason for trainer Glen Todd in the S.W. Randall Plate for three-year-olds and upward.
The BC Derby/Oaks Day 10-race card begins at 12:50 p.m., an hour earlier than the normal weekend start at Hastings Racecourse.
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