Ron Crockett, a 1957 graduate of Renton High School will open his 17th season Friday night as President of Emerald Downs Race Track in Auburn. Horse racing gets underway Friday the 13th with first post at 6 p.m.
Crockett, a 2004 inductee into the Washington Racing Hall of Fame is coming off a successful 2011 season that finished with a healthy 11 percent increase in on-track attendance Crockett is confident the momentum will continue in 2012.
“We have a beautiful and very clean facility that is attractive for horseplayers, families and horsemen,” Crockett said. “Our job is to take good care of them when they attend the races, and also to present a good racing show.”
During Friday's opening night there will be "58 winners on the eight-race card eight horses and 50 lucky fans each lugging home beautiful brand new 32'' HDTV's," says Vince Bruun Director of Media Relations for Emerald Downs. "Six TVs will be given away after each of the first five races, and seven TV winners will be drawn after races 6, 7 and 8, including one to a lucky Emerald Downs Facebook fan."
Toward the latter end, 62 horses are entered on opening night including 50 horses in the final six races attractive numbers for handicappers pondering opportunities in either the late $0.50 Pick 4 or the $0.50 Pick 5.
In the featured seventh race for 3-year-olds and up at 5-½ furlongs, defending training champion Frank Lucarelli saddles the 4-year-old gelding Marvin’s Magic for owners Chris Randall and Nick Rossi, whose combined record the last two seasons is 21-for-56 (38 percent) at Emerald Downs. Lucarelli, who edged Howard Belvoir 53-52 for the 2011 training title, has two horses entered Friday while Belvoir will be busy with eight runners in seven races.
A 30-race stakes program worth over $1.5 million begins Sunday, May 13 with the $50,000 Hastings Handicap for older fillies and mares. The road to the Longacres Mile begins Sunday, May 20 with the $50,000 Governor’s Handicap, possibly featuring the return of two-time Horse of the Meeting Noosa Beach.
The 77th running of the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3) is Sunday, Aug. 19, and the competition within the division will be strong, with stalwarts like Winning Machine, He’s All Heart and Assessment back to challenge Noosa Beach, while Jebrica, Zayda and Couldabenthewhisky, all up from the 3-year-old ranks, add depth to a very tough division.
In the jockeys’ ranks, defending champion Leslie Mawing*who rode 129 winners in 2011*returns and is named to ride five horses Friday. Gallyn Mitchell, the track’s all-time leader with 1,322 wins, is back for his 17th consecutive opening night at Emerald Downs. Mitchell, 49, has finished in the top five every year at Emerald Downs and also ranks No. 1 with 74 stakes wins. Juan Gutierrez, second last year with 100 wins, begins the season needing just nine victories to move into second place all-time with 887 wins at Emerald Downs.
Newcomers to the jockey colony include William Antongeorgi III, one of the leading riders in Northern California, and apprentice Eliska Kubinova, who had a fantastic Portland Meadows season with 60 wins. Kubinova, a 23-year-old native of the Czech Republic, ride all eight opening night races and will have her apprentice weight allowance throughout 2012.
For the second straight season, CSN ( Comcast Sports Network) will cover Emerald Downs’ every Saturday live throughout the 2012 meeting.
Hosted by Director of Publicity Joe Withee, “Emerald Downs Live” runs from 2-6 p.m. and will feature the track’s entire card. Emerald Downs’ race replays will also be available on XFINITY TV On Demand from Comcast.
Another returning feature includes “Vic’s Trips”—a TV segment that showcases Victor Cozzetti’s trip horse of the day and airs on every live racing day. “The Predictor” analyzes horses whose previous race may have been compromised by bad racing luck.
Racing will be held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the meet with Thursdays added for a seven-week run in July and August. Post times remain 6 p.m. week nights and 2 p.m. weekends and holidays; closing day is Sunday, Sept. 23.
(Information for this story was provided by Vince Bruun Director of Media Relations for Emerald Downs).