(Auburn, WA) The 25th racing season opens today, the last time Emerald Downs’ opening day was in June you’d have to go back when they began 24 years ago June 20, 1996. This of course was not the plan for today fans had hoped to be coming off the traditional cap give-away day on Father’s Day and making plans for the upcoming annual July 3rd Fireworks Spectacular. Everyone was thrown a curveball with Covid and now the Emerald Administration working with the State Horse Racing Commission have worked together to formulate the plan to get racing started.
In this opening phase races will occur with no fans in the stands with only necessary personnel on track. Emerald plans on racing on Wednesday’s and Thursday’s, this was determined by looking for the best opportunities for betters at home to see the Emerald race cards all over the United States for maximum chance at the betting handle to remain or even be more than on typical race days.
Commission Executive Secretary Doug Moore has been working to provide the pertinent information to the Governor’s Office and State Department of Health. The first hurdle was to convince State officials that horse racing should not be grouped in with the other major sports teams. First, racing has been underway at many tracks all across the nation without fans. Second, there have been 200-300 people regularly on the backside of Emerald and horses have been in training since early February.
Moore gave a lot of credit to the Governor’s office and State Health officials. Moore said he felt all along that racing could have been underway since the only difference between what they have been doing at the track since February 3rd when they opened for training and racing is a few extra people on site. Moore says there will be less than 20 additional people including 3 racing stewards (the officials who oversee races.) a photographer for photo finishes, the track announcer and television camera operators. All are in their own offices or spaces where they are isolated. Other than that everyone else is already here and have been for months and there has not been a single positive case of Covid 19.
The plan for this season is racing 2 days a week on Wednesday’s at 2:15pm and Thursday’s at 5pm through July. On Saturday, August 1 the track is hoping fans will be allowed back and they will then run weekends through closing day, Sunday, October 18. The schedule remains fluid and track officials maintain the option to further change it as conditions may fluctuate. Moore says the Racing Commission remains ready to work with track officials if the schedule needs to be adjusted. If fans are not allowed by August Moore says they may decide to continue to race on weekdays. Moore says there really isn’t anyway to know for sure how this will all play out and everyone simply has to be ready to adjust as this plays out.
The opening 2 days are set with 10 races and are expecting large fields. For opening day 86 horses were entered and 88 for Thursday averaging almost 9 per race. Betting options include the traditional win, place and show with a minimum $2 wager. Exotic bets are the $1 rolling daily Double, 50-cent Pick 3, 4 and 5, $1 minimum Exacta, 50-cent Trifecta and 10-cent Superfecta and a Jackpot 7. Fans can wager on the races through one of several on-line betting sites.