Emerald Downs (Auburn, WA)
(Racing Dates: 06/22/2020 - 10/04/2020)
Emerald Downs is a thoroughbred racetrack in Auburn, Washington, located a half mile east of Highway 167. It is named after Seattle, the Emerald City.
Emerald Downs first opened its doors to race fans on June 20, 1996, with the inaugural 100-day meet running through November 4. It replaced Longacres Racetrack, which closed in September 1992 after sixty seasons of racing. Following the closure of Longacres, racing was not held in Western Washington from 1993–1995.
However, Thoroughbred racing continued at Yakima Meadows and Playfair Race Course in Spokane during this time. Emerald Downs operated as a Limited Partnership from 1996 to 2015, with a group of investors led by Ron Crockett. In 2002, the land where Emerald Downs is situated was purchased by the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe for roughly $70 million.
The Tribe purchased the track buildings and facilities and formed Emerald Downs Racing LLC in 2015. The Tribe has made a number of improvements since taking over the operation including a 1150 square foot infield big screen. Emerald Downs celebrated its 20th anniversary Monday, June 20, 2016, with a special night of racing featuring many of the stars from the track's first two decades.
The Emerald Downs track is a one-mile (1.6 km) oval in the shadow of Mount Rainier. The track surface itself is made of geo-textile fabric, washed rock, coarse sand, and one-component track material. However, there is no turf course. The tote board is located in the center of the oval track.
The Emerald Downs infield is designed as a storm system that is sized to accommodate all storm runoff for the entire southern portion of the track property, including all rooftop surfaces as well as parking lots and the racetrack surface.
Before releasing any water, Emerald Downs tests for turbidity and PH levels. Samples are also sent to a laboratory for further testing of dissolved oxygen, ammonia and fecal coliform levels. Finally, the water is released into Mill Creek at an engineered rate of discharge in order to help prevent flooding downstream from the track.
Much of the infield is under water during the fall and winter, creating a home for ducks, geese, and other small wildlife.
Emerald Downs hosts Live Thoroughbred racing from mid April through the mid September. The 2018 racing season will be Sunday April 22 thru Sunday, September 23. Races are run Friday through Sunday the majority of the season.
The track conducts several large ungraded stakes (i.e. the Auburn Handicap) and many overnight handicaps and stakes. There are an average of 7-8 races on weeknights, and 10 races per race weekend. In addition to live racing, the track offers simulcast wagering and a card room casino year round.
The first Quarter Horse race in track history was held in 2010. In 2011, Emerald Downs added a major Quarter Horse stakes, the $60,000 Bank of America Emerald Championship Challenge Stakes run on Labor Day weekend.
Emerald Downs also hosted Indian Relay Racing in 2015 and the popular feature returns June 8-10 2018.
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