I have visited the Hastings Racetrack a handful of times now. But for each, it was for an event with drinking and food in the foreground; and the actual race, an add on. So admittedly, I have yet to bet on a horse, and don’t even really know how to go about doing so. That’s why I was ecstatic to receive this invitation to the racetrack. On this day, I would be attending their Superfecta weekend, where my visit came with a behind the scenes look at the race day, a crash course in betting, and a lovely lunch on the Molson Canadian patio.
For the more exciting version to this recap, check out the latest video on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei, as it details how @itsjosheats and I won big at the racetrack!
Our attendance included drink tickets to try a few of the speciality cocktails being shaken and poured on the day. All out of a four sided, roving, popup bar. It featured local bartenders representing their place of employment, with fun race track and horse inspired beverages. You were able to claim your drink, then climb up scaffolding to the bar’s roof top patio.
“The Diamond” was offering a cocktail called “The Front Runner” with Bombay gin, bianco vermouth, strawberry bell pepper syrup, lavender bitters, and soda. It was a very light drink, great for those who don’t actually like the taste of alcohol.
“Mamie Taylors” gave you a much stronger drink, for those who do. This was aptly named “Wild Horses”. It is made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, peach, mint, and bitters.
“The Boxcar” had a “Dill Spritz” that was light and refreshing. It was made with dill infused cazadores, blanco tequila, luxardo, bitter bianco, lemon, honey, lem-Marrakech bitters, soda, and bubbly.
We also had a light lunch on the Molson patio, an area right by the track, marked in red with shade providing umbrellas and its own bar. Here, a catered assortment of fresh vegetables, cured meats, cubed cheeses, and chocolatey desserts were made available to nibble on, as the horses trotted on.
We enjoyed a few races at our position: on the side of the track, a few meters from the finish line marker. Although truthfully, your view here is limited to only what is before you, as you can’t really make out the competitors as they run the full race. The match is televised both on the track side screen; but also world wide for those betting on the online, to be able to follow along. The aforementioned screen does helps, but it too is kept at a distance in needed of squinting.
Being by the track is best for getting a closer look at the contenders, and for petting the horses, should an opportunity arise. This is especially popular with small school aged children, and the social media conscious (as seen with the photos above).
But of course, the view is significantly better higher above. Here, you get to see more of the horses racing, for longer, around larger stretches of track. This was the view from the sky box and the sky deck. A, area reserved for VIPs to eat, drink, and enjoy the festivities from high above, and afar.
Although my favourite view of the visit, was definitely that of the announcers’, in his secluded booth. He and the judges/referees, communicated past a plexiglass barrier, separating their individual box suites.
With binoculars and a list of horses competing, he gave those watching a verbal blow by blow, high above his perch lined with megaphones. He broke down stats, opened and closed out the betting, and was basically the park’s hype man. After all, as much as this was an attraction for folks like me; a day at the races typically means betting for other more dedicated race day enthusiasts.
And we would get a taster of this: being able to place our own bets. But first we would get a crash course on how to do so. How to make a bet at any of the wickets, through the available machines, or even on your phone. To boil it down, you decided which horse you wanted to bet on, how much you wanted to bet on it, and how it will win. “Your horse” doesn’t need to win, it just needs to finish first, second, or third; if you are betting “to place”. Naturally you don’t make as much money as betting to win does/would, but this way, it gives you a greater chance to win.
If you are placing said bet verbally, there is a pattern of speech in which to place the bet. This “how to” is posted at the cash register for an easy reference. My first time was not as intimidating as I conceived it in my head, in realty it was as easy as the ticket for my bet being printed out.
From here, you need only cheer for your winning horse, while hoping for the desired outcome. Having something at stake, while watching, does make it a lot more exciting. But don’t just take my word for it, check out the video above, and then visit the racetrack yourselves, for a fun way to spend a sundays. And if horses aren’t you thing, they also offer dog races. English bulldogs and corgis, just to name a few.
PNE Gate 6 or 9
188 N. Renfrew Street, Vancouver BC, V5K 3N8