(Auburn, WA) Emerald Downs celebrates 25 years on Sunday. It was June 20, 1996 when the admission gates first flew open and a crowd of more than 18,000 who had waited four years for the return of live racing in Western Washington packed the shiny new track in Auburn. Emerald Downs was built and opened after Longacres in Renton shuttered its operations after 59 years in 1992. The owners, the Alhadeff family sold the property to the Boeing company.
Ron Crockett spearheaded the effort with 31 other investors to get Emerald Downs built and then he sold it to the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe in 2014 who have owned and operated it ever since. On day 1 there were 2 Stakes races, in fact the 1st race ever run at Emerald Downs was the $35,000 US Bank Stakes won by Strawberry Morn with jockey David Wilson aboard. Strawberry Morn won by 10 lengths and rewarded the public who bet her down to 1-1 favoritism. Mr and Mrs C. A. Roberts were the owners and Allan Jack was the winning trainer. Everlasting with Chris Loseth was 2nd and Fancy Stockings with Luis Jauregui finished 3rd.
The other Stake that day was the Auburn Stakes where the Murdock Macpherson owned and Larry Pierce trained Sneakin’ Jake found a gap up the rail to win by a nose with Vann Belvoir aboard at over Final Act with Chris Loseth again settling for 2nd. Captain Video with Russell Baze finished 3rd.
To celebrate the 25th year track officials will be hosting a program with highlights and honoring local dignitaries at 2pm prior to the 1st race and there will be 2 Stakes races on the 9 race card. The 6th race will feature the $50,000 Auburn Stakes that features a field of 6 going 6-furlongs. The 8th race is the Seattle Stakes also worth $50,000 going 6 furlongs with a field of 10 set to break from the gates.
The Auburn Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings is highlighted with the return of last year’s horse of the meet, Dutton. Dutton is owned by the Rising Star Stable VIII and trained by Hall of Famer Howard Belvoir. Dutton was 3 for 3 in his 3 lifetime starts last year breaking his maiden in the WTBO Lads Stakes with an impressive 9-length win over his 8 opponents at a healthy 7-1. Next was a 14-length win in an allowance race at 1-9 odds. He then finished his season stretching out to a mile and 16th in the Gottstein by 2 and half lengths but it didn’t look good just inside the 1/8th pole when Coastal Kid loomed up and actually passed Dutton when he bolted to the outside fence to finish 3rd.
2020 Gottstein Stakes
Dutton has been working regularly for his return and has been tapped as the 6-5 morning-line favorite and Jennifer Whitaker will again ride. The second favorite is a Golden Gate shipper Big Duke with Julien Couton up. Big Duke is owned by Hesselein and trained by Sergio Ledezma. Big Duke is coming off a half length allowance win on his last out on May 29th. Big Duke has 5 wins and 3 2nds from 11 lifetime starts.
Top Executive will be the 3rd morning-line favorite at 4-1 who also has been running at Golden Gate but ran last season at Emerald and picked up a stakes win in the King County Express by a neck at 13-1. Kevin Orozco is slated to fly up and ride Top Exec and won on him 2 races back in an allowance and ran 8th in his last outing the Alcatraz Stakes. John and Janene Maryanski and the Riverbend stable are the owners and Blaine Wright trains.
The other entries are Nationhood who is 1 for 1 in his career winning his maiden on June 9th, Kevin Radke rides for trainer Kay Penney Cooper and owned by the Posidon Partners II will begin at 9-2. Big Endeavor with Alex Cruz will be an outsider at 10-1 and is coming off a 3rd place finish at Emerald in an allowance race. Big Endeavor is owned by Ken Person, Mike Nyland and Eric Amendland and trained by Ken Person and at 12-1 Kowboykabin checks in and Heriberto Martinez gets the ride for trainer Tom Wenzel and owner George Todaro.
It’s the ladies turn, the Seattle Stakes is for 3-year-old fillies and attracted a field of 10 set to go 6-furlongs. It’s a wide open field with the m-l favorite at 5-2, Gayles Evening. The Blaine Wright trained and Jamey Thomas owned Golden Gate shipper is coming off a pair of allowance wins from April. Santos Rivera travels up from Northern California to ride. Even though she has strong credentials the front running style fillie will have to break from the far outside the 10 hole and could come into play if she can’t clear.
Wright also has the 2nd favorite entered La Una with Jose Zunino in the irons. La Una broke her maiden last year and won her prep this year and is 2 for 2 lifetime. John and Janene Maryanski, the Riverbend Stable and BDW Racing own La Una.
The 3rd favorite is Camden High who will be making her 8th career start. Camden High is owned by Swag Stables and trained by David Martinez and Alex Anaya gets the ride. She has o9nly won 1 race but she’s placed 4 times and showed once. Frisco Frills comes in at 6-1 from the 1 hole with Julien Couton aboard. Couton won on Frills in her season debut on May 19 in a maiden special weight at odds-on but Frills fell short fading to 5th in her first try against winners. Cliff Balcom owns, trains and bred the Washington bred.
All-time leading trainer Frank Lucarelli will send out 8-1 shot Crazy About You and will leg up Kevin Orozco to ride. She ships in from Golden Gate has a maiden win and comes off a 3rd place finish in her last outing. Lucarelli owns her along with Randall and Rossi LLC. Coastal Run will head to the track as a 10-1 outsider from the hot Joe Toye barn. Ed Zenker owns ‘Run and all-time leading Emerald Downs jockey Juan Gutierrez gets the mount. At 12-1 Madigan Squeeze will break from the 4 gate and Heriberto Martinez will be along for the ride. Madigan Squeeze won the 1st race of the 2021 season at Emerald Downs by 11+ lengths but came back against winners to finish and even 6th. David Martinez trains for owners Swag Stable and Gregg Kingma.
Also at 12-1 is Kerralia with Kevin Radke riding. Anne Wisdom is the owner and Gregory Moore sends her out after 3 career starts where she has done nothing wrong. Last year she ran 2nd in an 8k maiden then won at the 15k maiden level. In her only start this year she held off Ms Lynn by a neck for the win. Ms Lynn is 15-1 with Alex Cruz aboard. Cruz has ridden her 3 times and has 2 wins and a place for the Roy Lumm trained and Ron Bohlman owned entry. Rounding out the 10 horse field is Patricia L with Javier Matias aboard for Frank Lucarelli. The 20-1 and longest shot on the morning line is owned by Iron Horse 2 and making her 3rd career start. She won her 1st race last year breaking her maiden then ran 3rd in the Shinpoch Stakes but ran a distant 6th in her only start in 2021. These final 3 entries could be interesting if they step up more than expected and adds to the intrigued and the wide-openess of this race.
A large crowd is expected to be in attendance for the traditional Father’s Day, one of the historically higher attended days through the 25 year history of Emerald Downs. 1st race post time is 2:30.