The 2011 Emerald Downs meet is scheduled to begin on tax day, April 15th at the Auburn, Washington track, where the Grade 3 Longacres Mile will once again be the center of the Washington racing calendar.
I'm working on a more in-depth post on the upcoming Emerald meet, including a look at the early meet winners and where those horses tend to come from. The first two to three weeks of every Emerald meet features races made up of essentially three types of horses:
1) Horses stabled at Emerald Downs that are running for the first time since last fall,
2) Horses shipping in from Portland Meadows, and
3) Horses shipping in from other West Coast tracks (Golden Gate, Turf Paradise, Sunland, Hastings, etc.).
It's always tough to evaluate horses racing after long layoffs, especially in the claiming ranks. Furthermore, horses shipping in from other tracks from conditioned claimers and maiden claiming races (where the class lines from track to track can be difficult, at best, to deliniate) also present a handicapping challenge.
The post I'm working on will look at the first three weeks of the Emerald meet over the last five years in order to understand which of the above three groups performs the best every April relative to the overall number of starters. It's taking a bit of time to assemble since it involves tracking every runner during those three weeks over a five year period...which essentially is another way of saying that I'm doing a bunch of manual data entry. On the positive side, the results should paint a good picture as to whether how much weight to place on recent form at Portland Meadows when compared to a six-month layoff horse from Emerald.
Just like last year, Emerald is once again presenting a series of videos under the title "Preseaon Pass" on local Seattle cable provider Comcast, and on YouTube. The series takes a look some of the horses expected to feature throught the upcoming meet, including returning horses and notable two-year-olds. The Emerald Downs YouTube channel also has videos from morning training sessions - a fantastic resource for players who like to see how a horse worked, as opposed to just reading a number on the form.
I've embedded the first Preseason Pass video below.