After a two-month delay, Emerald Downs in Auburn is set to open its racing season Wednesday. (Emerald Downs photo)

After a two-month delay, Emerald Downs in Auburn is set to open its racing season Wednesday. (Emerald Downs photo)

Emerald Downs set to open racing season with no fans

The track begins its 10-race program Wednesday two months later than expected due to the pandemic.

By Doug Parry / Special to The Herald

AUBURN — No fans will be clutching their tickets and no tellers will be taking bets, but horses will finally start running races at Emerald Downs.

The racetrack will open its 25th season Wednesday, two months later than expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wednesday’s 10-race program starts at 2:15 p.m., followed by an evening program Thursday at 5 p.m. The track plans to continue with a Wednesday-Thursday schedule until large gatherings are allowed under Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start Washington” plan, when it intends to move back to its typical Friday-Sunday schedule and allow fans to attend.

Wednesday’s opener marks the first professional sporting event in Washington since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis in March. The revised 44-day schedule calls for the track to move to weekends in August and continue running through Oct. 4. Like seemingly everything this year, the schedule is subject to change.

With no fans in attendance, the track will rely on revenue from bettors watching at home or on their mobile devices and playing the races over the internet on sites such as and That explains the midweek time slot — it gives Emerald Downs a better chance to attract attention from a nationwide audience than it would get if it were going up against major tracks such as Belmont Park or Churchill Downs.

The 85th running of the $100,000 Longacres Mile, traditionally the highlight of the summer meet and usually held in August, is tentatively set for Sept. 13. That will be eight days after the Kentucky Derby on a scrambled national racing calendar. Other local highlights include the $40,000 Muckleshoot Derby for 3-year-olds on Sept. 5 and the $60,000 Gottstein Futurity for 2-year-olds on closing day.

In the jockey colony, defending riding champion Gary Wales is back to defend his title with nine mounts on opening day. Wales rode 99 winners last year, 33 more than runner-up Kevin Orozco. A top newcomer is Alex Cruz, a 27-year-old native of Puerto Rico who was the leading rider this winter at Turf Paradise in Phoenix.

Among trainers, Frank Lucarelli returns after a record-breaking 81-win season. Lucarelli has finished first or second in 16 of the last 20 seasons and ranks No. 1 all-time in Emerald Downs wins and earnings. Blaine Wright, the leading stakes trainer each of the last four years, also returns in 2020, along with Washington Hall of Fame trainers Howard Belvoir, Doris Harwood, Sharon Ross and Tim McCanna.

The opening day feature is a $13,600 allowance/optional claimer for 3-year-olds and up at 6 furlongs. The 11-horse field includes Wine At Nine, an 8-year-old gelding with 17 career Emerald Downs wins, along with local stakes winners This Great Nation, Makah Lane and Muncey.

Those playing at home can get more info on the races and watch live at The popular Parker’s tip sheet, typically sold on track, is available at Fans can also find past-performance information at, and

Talk to us

More in Sports

Most fall sports at Everett CC, Edmonds moved to spring

In an announcement, the NWAC also announced a delay to the men’s and women’s basketball season.

WIAA delays start of fall high school sports season

Football practices are now scheduled to start Sept. 5 and all other fall sports will begin Sept. 7.

90th Snohomish County Amateur golf tournament canceled

The annual event had been postponed, but now won’t be played for the first time since 1931.

Arlington thrower Julia Parra

The standout track and field athlete will continue her career at WSU while studying medicine.

Darrington baseball player Brevin Ross

The shortstop/catcher played five years of varsity baseball and also starred on the basketball team.

Meadowdale softball player Kate Houghton

The standout pitcher will play college softball at Central Connecticut State University.

Community sports roundup: SnoCo Sports HoF banquet canceled

Plus, Snohomish County FC adds a women’s team, the Snohomish Soccer Dome gets new management and more.

Shorewood alum Snell issues apology for part of rant

The Rays pitcher says he wishes he had not said, “I’m not playing unless I get mine.”

Mariners begin ‘summer camp’ at T-Mobile Park

But the workouts look a whole lot different amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Prep notebook: Kamiak hires new boys wrestling coach

Plus, a Meadowdale junior gets picked for the WIAA LEAP Committee.

Marysville Pilchuck soccer player Edgar Martinez

Standout defender also kicked for the football team and shares a name with a Seattle Mariners icon.

What’s next for Mariners’ minor-leaguers?

The the minor-league season canceled, most young players will be left to work out on their own.