There are two types of horse racing action in British Columbia – Thoroughbred racing and Standardbred racing. The Thoroughbred races take place at Hastings Park in Vancouver and are the type of races where a jockey rides the horse. Standardbred racing operates at Fraser Downs in Cloverdale (Surrey) where the horse pulls a sulky and driver around the track.
As consumer interest changes and with different types of gambling now available in British Columbia, the two racetracks have struggled for their share of the market in the past couple of decades. In the 70’s and 80’s both racetracks enjoyed 4 or 5 racing days each week during their season, but now race days are twice a week, usually on weekends and statutory holidays. Both Hastings Park and Fraser Downs have casinos and the facilities are also referred to as racinos.
The racetrack at Hastings Park in Vancouver opened in 1947 on the property roughly at Hastings and Renfrew Streets, also known as the PNE grounds. The Thoroughbreds race from mid-April until mid-October. Hastings has a covered grandstand and benches set up at track level for patrons to watch the races. See their website for more information on the horse racing schedule. http://www.hastingsracecourse.com/
The Standardbred racetrack in Surrey opened in 1976 at 17755-60th Avenue on the property also known as the Cloverdale Fairgrounds. The horse racing season is from mid-August to mid-May the following year. Fraser Downs does not have an elevated seating area to watch the horse races unless patrons are willing to pay for a buffet meal in the clubhouse. Viewing areas are limited to standing outside near the racetrack rail or looking out windows near the lounge/dining areas. More information on the racing schedule can be found at their website http://www.fraserdowns.com/
There is no charge to enter either racetrack to watch the races. At Hastings Park it costs $10 to park a car on the grounds, and if attending a race during the PNE (last couple of weeks in August – early September) full grounds admission must be paid, around $20. Fraser Downs has free parking with the exception of special events when it costs $10 to park in the fairgrounds, though it would be rare for a special event to be occurring simultaneously with a race night.
If you wish to buy a racing form or a racing program to keep track of the horses in each race, the cost is around $3 or $4. Programs can be downloaded for free from each racetrack’s website ahead of time. Hastings Park has sit down dining along with several concessions to buy hot dogs, popcorn, coffee, soft drinks, etc. Fraser Downs is not as easy to enjoy a quick snack. Finding the locations in the casino building and buying something economical if you can catch the attention of a food server is a huge challenge. Fraser Downs promotes a $30 buffet in their Clubhouse that overlooks the racetrack.
Cost to Bet on Horses
There is no pressure to spend money and wager on horse races if you’re at the racetrack. Many people come out just for fun to watch the horses run. For persons who want to place a bet, the minimum amount for basic wagering is $2 to buy a ticket on a horse to win (first), place (second), or show (third). The amount of money won depends on the odds and the order in which the horse crosses the finish line.
Go to the horse racetrack as a form of entertainment. Play responsibly and have a predetermined limit of what you plan to wager such as $20 and once it’s gone, it’s gone, or if you’re lucky you’ll have a few dollars left in your pocket. Remember what the B.C. Lottery Corporation says – Know your limit, play within it.