A Brief Overview of Horse Racing in Vancouver

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Horse Racing in Vancouver. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Live horse racing in Vancouver is a popular sport and a much-loved spectator pastime with a rich history and tradition dating back to the 19th century.

History and Development of Horse Racing in Vancouver

Horse racing has a long and storied history in Vancouver, dating back to the late 19th century. The city’s first racecourse, Hastings Park, opened in 1889 and quickly became a popular destination for horseracing enthusiasts. Over the years, the park has hosted many famous races and notable horses, including Seabiscuit, who won the BC Derby in 1937.

In the early years, horse racing in Vancouver was primarily a leisure activity for the wealthy, with the sport being closely associated with gambling. However, over time, it has become more accessible to the general public, with smaller racetracks and off-track betting facilities established throughout the city.

The popularity of horse racing in Vancouver has ebbed and flowed over the years. The sport grew in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, with the construction of the modern-day Hastings Racecourse in 1967. However, in the 1980s and 1990s, the industry faced numerous challenges, including a decline in attendance and increased competition from other forms of gambling.

In recent years, local horse racing has undergone something of a resurgence. Various racecourses have seen a significant increase in attendance, with a younger generation of fans showing an interest in the sport. Additionally, the city has seen the introduction of new, innovative forms of horse racing, such as night racing and “extreme” racing events that incorporate obstacles and jumps.

Today, two popular racecourses serve the city, while various horseracing events and festivals dot the city’s annual sports event calendar. 

Hastings Racecourse & Casino

One of the longest continuously used professional sports facilities for horse racing in Vancouver is the Hastings Racecourse, which is located in the heart of the city. Opened in 1892, Hastings Park has been a staple of the horseracing scene in Vancouver, and the broader British Columbia region, for over a century. It continues to host many of the city’s most exciting horse races.

The track is a one-mile oval and is home to both thoroughbred and standardbred horse racing. Hastings is known for its beautiful gardens, picnic areas, and a wide range of dining options, making it a popular destination for families and horseracing fans.

Hastings has undergone significant renovations and upgrades in recent years, including adding a new grandstand, which provides a state-of-the-art viewing experience for horseracing fans. The grandstand features a large indoor viewing area and outdoor seating with a clear view of the track. Hastings has also added a new turf track, which has increased the track’s ability to host a broader range of horse races.

Fraser Downs Racetrack & Casino

Another popular exhibition park racetrack in Vancouver is the Fraser Downs Racetrack & Casino in Surrey. Fraser Downs is primarily a harness racing track, although it does host a limited number of thoroughbred races each year. The track is a half-mile oval and is home to some of the most exciting harness races in the region.

In addition to offering live horse racing in Vancouver, Hastings and Fraser Downs also offer simulcast racing, allowing fans to watch and bet on horse races from other tracks worldwide. This is an excellent option for punters who cannot attend live races or who want to follow their favourite horses and jockeys even when racing at other tracks

Vancouver is home to several popular horseracing events and festivals, attracting spectators from around the world. Here are some of the most well-known:

  • Hastings Racecourse events: Hastings Racecourse is the oldest horse racing track in British Columbia and is located in the heart of Vancouver. The track hosts several yearly races, including the prestigious BC Derby and BC Oaks. The Deighton Cup is another popular horseracing event held annually at the Hastings Racecourse. It is known for its extravagant fashion, delicious food, and exciting races. Attendees can enjoy a day of horse racing while sipping on cocktails and indulging in gourmet cuisine.
  • The Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair: The Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair is a four-day event held annually in May in Surrey, just outside Vancouver. The event features a range of rodeo attractions, including bull riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling, carnival rides, food vendors, and live music.
  • The Pacific National Exhibition: The Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) is an annual summer fair in Vancouver. In addition to carnival rides and games, the fair also hosts a horse racing event, the PNE Prize Home Derby, where attendees can watch thoroughbred horses compete for a grand prize.
  • The Chilliwack Fair: The Chilliwack Fair is a three-day annual event held in August in Chilliwack, just outside Vancouver. The fair features a range of agricultural displays, live music, carnival rides, and horse racing events.

Horse Racing in Vancouver and Sports Betting

Horse racing is also a popular betting sport in Vancouver, with many fans enjoying the thrill of picking the winning horse and cashing in on their bets. Both Hastings and Fraser Downs offer a wide range of betting options, including win, place, show, and exotic bets. Additionally, both tracks offer on-site betting facilities and information on how to bet online or over the phone.

Ultimately, horse racing in Vancouver is a beloved and vibrant part of the local cultural landscape. From the historic Hastings Racecourse to the exciting harness racing at Fraser Downs, this beautiful city has something for every horse racing fan. Whether you are a seasoned bettor or simply a fan of the sport, horse racing in Vancouver is an experience that should not be missed.

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