The regular Friday Night Live card at Hastings Racecourse has been adjusted to a Friday Afternoon Live program today with a 3:20 p.m. start to accommodate the BC Lions CFL home opener at Empire Field.

 In a message to the masses, Raj Mutti, Regional General Manager, BC Racing, has invited football fans to drop by Hastings Racecourse for an entertaining afternoon of thoroughbred racing on their way to the 7:30 p.m. football game. “Hastings Racecourse & Slots – located on the PNE grounds just a short walk from Empire Field – is an ideal pre-game destination for Lions’ fans,” Mutti said. “And we want to emphasize there’s no admission charge to enjoy our racing product and our entertainment facilities.”

 Mutti noted that today’s start time adjustment is one of three remaining on this year’s schedule at Hastings. Saturday, July 16 will be a 3:20 p.m. start with the Whitecaps hosting an MLS game at Empire Field and Friday, July 22 will also be a 3:20 p.m. start with the Lions at home to the Edmonton Eskimos.

 STAKES RACES & RETURN OF THE MASCOTS THIS WEEKEND

 The $50,000 Lassie Stakes for 2-year-old fillies is the showcase event on Saturday’s card at Hastings while the $50,000 New Westminster Stakes for open 2-year-old shares the spotlight Sunday with the 3rd annual Mascot Derby in support of Variety – The Children’s Charity.

Both stakes races mark the first time this season that the 2-year-olds will be going six and one-half furlongs. The two morning line choices for the Lassie Saturday are Sunnyside Gal (3/1) and Claresmiezie (7/2) ) in a wide open nine-horse field.

Claresmiezie, trained by Greg Tracy and ridden by Pedro Alvarado, was an impressive winner going three and one-half furlongs in a maiden special weight race on May 22. Sunnyside Gal, with leading rider Mario Gutierrez up, is one of three Troy Taylor-trained horses in the lineup while Dino Condilenios has two entered, Hillingdon (9/2) and Waif (6/1).

Sunday’s New Westminster is a seven-horse field with Troy Taylor’s Century Union looking like the one to beat as she tackles the boys over six and one-half furlongs. Trained by Elizabeth Stolzenberg for Glen Todd and Patrick Kinsella, Century Union will be ridden by Kevah Nicholls while Gutierrez will be aboard Herescomelucky for the Todd camp.

BREADHEAD’ GOES FOR THREE MASCOT WINS IN A ROW

The fun-filled 3rd annual Mascot Derby designed for family entertainment is part of Sunday’s live racing program with Breadhead from Cobs Bread looking for his third consecutive title. Variety – The Children’s Charity – is hosting the popular Derby that brings mascots from all over the Lower Mainland competing in qualifying heats for the championship trophy.

Global TV sports director Squire Barnes will be on hand to introduce the more than 20 mascots that will make themselves available to racing fans of all ages. As always, there is no admission charge at Hastings Racecourse.

OUT OF TOWN SCOREBOARD

A reminder that Saturday is the last Hong Kong simulcast until September. It starts at 9:30 p.m. with a closing 11-race card. A major signature race at Hollywood goes Saturday with the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (4:37 p.m. PST), the eighth race on the card.

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