VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Mario Gutierrez and I’ll Have Another did not race in the Belmont Stakes, but that didn’t stop his local fans from setting a record at Hastings Park.

“We had over 14,000 people at the racecourse. It was just magnificent to see,” says Howard Blank, Vice President of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. “We had a record crowd…which was wonderful because they came out to support not only racing, but show their admiration and love for Mario Gutierrez.”

Blank says despite the recent success at Hastings, horse racing popularity continues to see declines worldwide.

“Wagering has been down all over North America because people have other choices when they’re making their entertainment dollar. The important thing for us is to work upon getting new people in and showing them the fun and excitement they can get for just a $2 wager,” he notes.

The challenge is to try and bring people back to the sport.

“I think everyone who went to Hastings on Saturday came out smiling and realized that this is a lot of fun. That’s what we need. We win them over with our product,” Blank enthuses.

“I think the most important thing we can do is to try and bring people [in], have them in to the track, and Mario has certainly started upon that important quest.”

Blank adds they will trying to work with Gutierrez, possibly to have him be one of Hastings ambassadors in the future.