The Northwest’s premier racing venue springs back into action Friday when Emerald Downs begins its 18th season of Thoroughbred racing with an eight-race card at 6:45pm PT.
The 75-day season continues through September 29, with live racing every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and special Monday holiday racing on Memorial Day, May 27, and Labor Day, September 2. A new Friday post time of 6:45 p.m. will be in effect throughout the season while weekend and holiday first post remains 2 p.m.
The centerpiece of the meet is the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3) for 3-year-olds and up on Sunday, August 18. The Mile features the top middle-distance horses on the West Coast matching strides in the 78th running of the Northwest’s premier Thoroughbred event.
A pair of 7-year-olds—Winning Machine, voted Top Older Horse last year, and Noosa Beach, the track’s all-time leader in stakes wins—also return in 2013. Winning Machine comes off his best season for trainer Frank Lucarelli, a campaign that saw the Kentucky-bred win two stakes and place in two others, including a heartbreaking defeat to Taylor Said in the Longacres Mile. The 2010 and 2011 Horse of the Meeting, Noosa Beach looks to rebound from an abbreviated 2012 campaign in which the 11-time stakes winner raced only twice. Trainer Doris Harwood is taking her time with Noosa Beach, and said the plan is to have the Washington-bred gelding peaking in August for The Mile.
In the jockeys’ ranks, Juan Gutierrez will be favored to win a second straight riding title and could reach a career milestone on opening weekend. Gutierrez, who rode 117 winners in 2012, needs just five wins to join Gallyn Mitchell as the only jockeys with 1,000 wins at Emerald Downs.
Lucarelli, the 2012 training champion with 43 wins, looks to win a third straight title and his fifth overall in 2013. It won’t be easy, as Tim McCanna, Howard Belvoir, Tom Wenzel, Jim Penney, Chris Stenslie, Jim Penney and Harwood all have deep stables, as does Phoenix newcomer Jeff Metz. Between them, McCanna (10 titles) and Lucarelli have captured 15 of the 17 training titles at Emerald Downs, and they also rank one-two all-time in wins with 848 and 719.
EMERALD DOWNS 2013
Dates: April 19th – September 29th
Emerald Downs horse racing schedule: every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and special Monday holiday racing on Memorial Day, May 27, and Labor Day, September 2. A new Friday post time of 6:45pm PT will be in effect throughout the season while weekend and holiday first post remains 2pm PT.
Emerald Downs Racetrack Information:
Main track (dirt): 1 mile oval
Distance from last turn to finish line: 990 feet
Width of stretch: 70 feet
Composition: 8″ layer of uniform coarse gravel, 14″ layer of coarse sand and a 14″ cushion layer of final sand that includes a mix of silt, clay, stabilizer and sports grids
Bets available may include: Win, Place, Show, Quinella, Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta, Daily Double, Pick 3, and Pick 4.
About Emerald Downs Racetrack:
Seattle has been known as The Emerald City since 1982, when officials held a contest to determine a new nickname – apparently “Queen City of the Northwest” was a little too long. It’s in the Seattle suburb of Auburn where you’ll find Emerald Downs, which opened in 1996 and replaced historic Longacres Racetrack as Washington’s top destination for thoroughbred racing.
Despite its name, Emerald Downs does not have a turf track, but it does have a one-mile oval dirt track that has become the center of controversy because of injuries to the horses. Almost $1 million was spent on improvements in 1997, and officials continue to tweak the composition of the surface, adding sand here and there to compensate for the hardening clay. Even with the changes and the frequently rainy conditions, this is still one of the fastest tracks you’ll find in the United States.
Emerald Downs hosts the Grade 3 $200,000 Longacres Mile Handicap, a one-mile race for 3-year- olds and up that has been part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series since 2008. Winners are automatically entered into the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. The Longacres Mile was first run in 1935; past winners include 2011 champion Awesome Gem, the chestnut gelding who bumped Street Sense for third place at the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Thoroughbred racing is held at Emerald Downs between April and September. Quarter Horses were added in 2010 and are expected to run more regularly as part of the schedule.