clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Racing in Washington: A long and winding road

New, 8 comments
Photo: MattG
Photo: MattG

Many tracks around the country feature a day dedicated solely to horses bred within their state as a way to promote the local breeding industry.  Arlington Park has the Prairie State Festival for Illinois-breds, California has CalCup Day, and both Florida and California put on the yearly Sunshine Millions day at Gulfstream and Santa Anita.  This Sunday, Emerald Downs will present Washington Cup VIII featuring six races restricted to Washington-bred horses.

The breeding and racing industry in Washington state has been through many changes over the last 15 to 20 years following the closure of the original home of thoroughbred racing in Western Washington, Longacres Racetrack in Renton (south Seattle).  The track was sold to Boeing in the early 90s and the closed in September of 1992 in order to make way for the company's corporate headquarters.  The current home of racing in Western Washington, Emerald Downs in Auburn (a little further south along I-5), didn't open up until 1996, which meant the racing industry in Western Washington went three years without a local track.

During the dark time on the Western half of the state there were two other tracks in the state that held thoroughbred racing: Yakima Meadows in Yakima and Playfair in Spokane.  Yakima Meadows hosted the Longacres Mile during the three years of non-racing in Western Washington with the track closing in 1998 after 37 years of operation.  Playfair, which first hosted races in 1901, ran its final race in December of 2000. (Although racing hasn't been conducted there in ten years, DRF.com still has track information for Playfair at their website...the track just won't go away.)

The racing industry went through many trying times during this period of uncertainty within the state but despite the challenges there were some good signs prior to the economic down-turn (which has affected almost every industry and every profession).  During the early and middle part of the past ten years the industry saw stronger numbers at the track.  

From 2004 to 2005, purses jumped from $8,690,037 to $11,096.804, thanks in large part to cooperation between Emerald Downs and the Muckleshoot Tribe.  Average field side jumped from 7.2 to 7.7, a sizable one year increase, and handle also increased during that time, which coincided with the legalization of ADWs within the state.  According to the Washington Horse Racing Commission, handle rose from $137,148,014 in 2004 to $154,891,044 in 2005.  While 2005's total was the highest since 1998 it was still less than the average handle from 1981 to 1992 when Longacres, Playfair, and Yakima Meadows combined to bring in anywhere from $192 to $243 million a year. But the increases during the early part of the decade suggested that the sport can grow even while the industry faces difficult times. 

The story of horse racing in Washington state is not much different than that of countless other states across the country as economic challenges have produced climate where industry officials and horsemen struggle to deal with current financial realities.   But to those men and women that continue to work towards advancing the racing industry, whether in Washington state or another, thank you for your tireless efforts.

I'll be heading out to Emerald Downs on Sunday to take in the Washington Cup Day card and to watch the best Washington-bred horse on the grounds, G3-Longacres Mile winner Noosa Beach.  You can find the post positions and entries for all six Washington Cup day races below and I'll have a run-down of each race prior to Sunday.

Race 4 - John & Kitty Fletcher Stakes

1 mile

Three Year Olds

Post-time: 3:36 PDT

PP

Horse

Jockey

1

Knight Raider

Krigger, K.

2

Zenovit

Frazier, R.

3

Lilly's a Jewel

Hoonan-Trujillo, D.

4

Missie Ky I You

Duran, F.

5

Sis's Sis

Gutierrez, J.

 

Race 5 - Belle Roberts Stakes

1 1/16 miles

Three and up, Filllies & Mares

Post-time: 4:07

PP

Horse

Jockey

1

Ghost Tree

Hoonan-Trujillo, D.

2

Have'n a Wild Time

Terrero, P.

3

Clair Annette

Krigger, K.

4

Mizzen You

Duran, F.

5

Private Fortune

Stillwell, T.

 

Race 6 - Diane Kem Stakes

6 1/2 furlongs

Two years old, Fillies

Post-time: 4:38

PP

Horse

Jockey

1

Allison Ridge

Krigger, K.

2

Chasing Demons

Gutierrez, A.

3

Pickled Again

Beato, I.

4

Bell Adieu

Duran, F.

5

Last Wild Kiss

Mitchell, G.

6

Iforgottobeme

Gutierrez, J.

7

Julie M C M

Hoonan-Trujillo, D.

8

Lady Golightly

Terrero, P.

9

Mariah's Juke Box

Frazier, R.

 

Race 7 - Muckleshoot Tribal Classic

1 mile

Three Years Old and up

Post-time: 5:09

PP

Horse

Jockey

1

Wasserman

Whitaker, J.

2

Margo's Gift

Duran, F.

3

Noosa Beach

Frazier, R.

4

Siberian Cocktail

Krigger, K.

5

He's All Heart

Mitchell, G.

6

Scalding Passion

Gutierrez, J.

 

Race 8 - Chinook Pass Stakes

1 Mile

Three Years Old

Post-time: 5:39

PP

Horse

Jockey

1

Newfound Man

Beato, I.

2

Wheelhouse

Duran, F.

3

Power Strip

Matias, J.

4

Fisher Creek

Gutierrez, A.

5

Certified Diamond

Gutierrez, J.

6

Slew the Man

Krigger, K.

7

Absolutely Cool

Terrero, P.

8

Mr. Mad Max

Hoonan-Trujillo, D.

9

Bogachiel

Mitchell, G.

10

Koala Beach

Frazier, R.

 

Race 9 - Dennis Dodge Stakes

6 1/2 furlongs

Two Years Old

Post-time: 6:09

PP

Horse

Jockey

1

Mack's Gold Bullet

Gutierrez, J.

2

Stellar Blue

Duran, F.

3

Stolen Rio

Terrero, P.

4

Giuseppe G

Stillwell, T.

5

Broulee Beach

Frazier, R.

6

Winter Warlock

Krigger, K.

7

Couldabenthewhisky

Mitchell, G.