Remembering the legacy of B.C. horse racing icon Richard Yates

Notes and quotes from Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver

Tom WolskiOwner, trainer and breeder Richard Yates was a go-to guy when it came to horse racing.

Among his many achievements, he was extremely proud of the Hastings Racing Club in Vancouver that he helped form in 2015.

On March 22, the racing community was hit by the sad news of Yates’s death from a massive heart attack.

“Our goal was to primarily sell 200 memberships,” he once told me of the racing club. “We sold out within 60 days. Now there’s a waiting list of perspective new owners.”

He also chuckled when potential owners would ask about that cost of owning a racehorse.

“One of the most-asked questions was if the $250 was a one-time fee,” said Yates. “When we told them that it was, other than a $30 cost of acquiring an owner’s licence, it wasn’t a very hard sell.”

Owner, trainer and breeder Richard Yates
Richard Yates

Richard went even further in helping prospective owners understand how owning a racehorse could be affordable.

“We are taking out as much of the financial risk as possible,” he said. “The associations will buy the horses with money set aside for the purpose of introducing people to the sport and lease them to the clubs for the season at no cost to members. The $250 will be used only for training and related expenses. At the end of the season, any money remaining after training costs will be returned to the partners.”

Small stable victory

Among several interesting horses with unique stories winning recently was White House Stables’ Exorbitant, a wire-to-wire winner.

For the four-year-old filly, it was a journey to the races that didn’t come easy. “As a baby, her mother kicked her accidentally,” said her trainer Mary-Anne Baumgartner. “And she lost her eye after having surgery. So it’s taken a while for her to get comfortable with running. She’s not spooky … and does everything we ask of her.”

In her first two starts last year, she went to the front and tired.

“Some jockeys would not be comfortable riding her, but jockey Leo (Espinoza) was exercising her in the mornings, so he felt comfortable letting her run.”

As for that win, “I thought she would run well,” said the trainer, “but I honestly never thought she would run that well. What’s great about winning any race is it makes getting up in the morning a lot easier.”

Welcome to Hastings

For over 20 years, horse owner and businessman George Sharp has raced his stable in California. This season, he decided to send a few of them to Hastings.

“I had a couple of speed horses,” said Sharp, “and thought they would run well on a smaller racetrack. And because of my business, I knew it could be the right time spending summers in Vancouver. It was the logical thing to do.”

It proved to be a good move. In his first local start, he had a winner with One Last Hit, trained by  Kerri Raven.

“I’m always exciting winning a race,” said Sharp, “especially when it comes in your first start and here at Hastings. I have four horses in Vancouver and hopefully will have a few more there during the season.”

Something to ponder

State of Kentucky regulations reveal incidents during the running of a race are not appealable. That may explain the long delay following that controversial Kentucky Derby finish. Bizarre.

Another sad loss

Horse racing and yours truly lost a great friend when popular trainer and former jockey Dennis Terry passed away comfortably at home with his family. So much to say about our relationship and not enough space to do it.

Notes on the program

If you’re wondering why popular trainer Mike Anderson’s name is missing from this year’s program, the answer is simple. Anderson has taken a sabbatical from training at the racetrack, preferring to spend more time on the farm.

Racing at Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver starts Saturdays and Sundays 1:50 p.m.

Former jockey Tom Wolski is a renowned horse racing journalist who has been covering the sport for more than three decades.


The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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