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Emerald Downs 10-year celebration Saturday


June 22, 2006     E-mail this page to a friend!

By Michael Costanzo
On June 20, 1996, Thoroughbred racing returned to western Washington as Emerald Downs in Auburn opened its doors for its inaugural meet. Strawberry Morn won the first race, the U.S. Bank Stakes, for trainer Allan Jack with Dave Wilson in the saddle. Emerald Downs officially completed its first decade of racing on Tuesday, June 20, as that day marked the 10-year anniversary of the Auburn oval's opening day.

Emerald Downs will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Saturday, and all fans 18 and over will receive a free $10 wagering voucher with paid admission. The voucher giveaway lasts until post time for the second race. First race post time on Saturday is 2 p.m.

Emerald Downs 10-year facts and figures
Tim McCanna closed out the first decade of racing at Emerald Downs at the top of the trainer standings, having saddled 503 winners. The top five trainers through the first 10 years of racing with wins and average winning payoff in parentheses are: Tim McCanna (503 - $8.40), Frank Lucarelli (406 - $10.40), Bud Klokstad (354 - $7.60), Jim Penney (342 - $10.50) and Howard Belvoir (307 - $11.30).

Gallyn Mitchell was the leading rider at Emerald Downs through the first 10 years of racing with 885 wins. The top five jockeys through the opening decade with wins and average winning payoff in parentheses are: Gallyn Mitchell (885 - $10.40), Frank Gonsalves (561 - $10.40), Ben Russell (464 - $9.60), Pedro Alvarado (400 - $10.50), and Juan Gutierrez (358 - $13.20).

The top trainer/jockey combination through the first 10 years at Emerald Downs was Howard Belvoir and Jennifer Whitaker. The pair teamed up 851 times, with 125 wins, and over $1.1 million in purse money won. Jim Penney and Geoffrey Cooper teamed up to win with 89 runners, while Steve Bullock and Gallyn Mitchell have visited the winner's circle 88 times together.

There were a total of 2,250 claimed horses in the first 10 years at Emerald Downs for a total of $19,426,450 exchanged. The first horse ever claimed at Emerald was Medicine Man Jake. He was taken for $5,000 out of the second race on opening day, June 20, 1996. The gelding would go on to lose 23 straight races before being retired in 1998.

The highest amount a horse has been claimed for at Emerald Downs is $50,000. Whatdidshesay, a daughter of Knight in Savannah, was taken for that amount on June 15, 2003. Whatdidshesay would start two times for her new connections, finishing second twice, before being retired. She has gone to become a broodmare and has produced one foal, an unraced filly named What a Hit.

There have been four horses claimed for $40,000 over the first 10 years. That list includes Spite and Malice (4/24/1999), Avenging Eagle (5/15/1999), Showhof (8/19/2000), and Evening News (8/27/2000).

Steve Crist to visit Emerald Downs Saturday
Steve Crist, Chairman and Publisher of the Daily Racing Form, will conduct a handicapping seminar trackside at Emerald Downs on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Crist will also be signing copies of his book "Exotic Betting" in the Hall of Fame at 3 p.m. Copies of the book will be available for purchase for $15 (regularly $24.95).

Deep Impact featured in Saturday night simulcast from Japan
After leaving Japanese and international racing fans reaching for superlatives with his amazing Tenno Sho win in April, Deep Impact lines up in the 47th running of the Takarazuka Kinen on Saturday night looking to win his fifth grade 1 race, and complete his domestic preparation for his next major goal - the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Simulcast wagering on the Takarazuka Kinen is hosted by Emerald Downs and will be available at the track as part of a three-race card imported from Kyoto Racecourse on Saturday night. First race post time is 11:00 p.m. (PDT).

$25,000 guaranteed Pick Four offered Saturday
Emerald Downs will offer a $25,000 guaranteed late pick four pool on Saturday. The guaranteed pick four will cover the final four races on the program.