(Auburn, WA) Saturday night racing was launched at Emerald Downs for the first time in track history last night and will continue through July. ESN was at the track and we’re excited to report the experiment was a hit. A good sized crowd attended for the 8-race card but also for Ladies Night, a wine and chocolate festival and the Equine Art show on display throughout the weekend.

Current EMD president Phil Ziegler
Current EMD president Phil Ziegler

We talked with Emerald Downs President Phil Ziegler and asked why night racing? Ziegler says the numbers have shown that sometimes Saturday’s get lost in the shuffle as far as attendance. He says they want to see if an evening post-time will encourage new visitors to come that are looking for something to do on a Saturday night.

This was just another change Ziegler has agreed to try since taking over as President of Emerald Downs last season. Ziegler and the new owner the Muckleshoot Tribe invested heavily into the track with the huge big screen atop the tote board and other technological upgrades. There is more coming including a face lift to the 5th floor and turf club during the next off-season but Ziegler did not want to disclose more of that project at this time other than to say there will be significant changes.

Ziegler recognizes the sport has changed and you have to continue to change to not only satisfy the customers you have but to keep bringing in new people. This is something Emerald Downs has always done well and Ziegler is continuing that tradition.

Ladies Night was popular!
Ladies Night was popular!

We ran into a group of ladies originally from Poland and they would confirm that Saturday night racing and Ladies night was a great idea. Aneta Golicz was quick to say that “Emerald Downs Rocks!”. Golicz and her entourage of Kasia Barski, Elina Petrosova, Kamila Nowak and Margaret Wojcicki were dressed to the nines and having a great time. They eventually worked their way somehow into the paddock with Emerald Downs TV host Joe Withee and into the Winner’s Circle after one of the later races. The group agreed this would not be their first and only trip to the track which has to be music to Ziegler’s ears.

The track was buzzing with activity and despite no big races this weekend there was plenty to be excited about with a solid 8-race card and plenty of ladies and younger people in general dressed up enjoying the ponies. The wine and chocolate fest allowed patrons to sample several wines and chocolates at reasonable prices.

One of the pieces at this weekend’s                                             Equine Art Show

While sampling they could take in the unbelievable Equine Art show on the main floor. Water colors to oil paintings, photo’s, sculptures and more. We talked with volunteer and longtime Emerald Downs Director of Food services Don Campbell, who is now enjoying his retirement. Campbell comes back every year and volunteers to work the Art exhibit and told us they limit the show to 200 artists and they were packed full. Artists from all over the country along with local artists have works on display. You can literally spend 2-hours just to take in all the art. It’s not just horse racing, its all equine and something for everyone. Most pieces are also for sale so if you find “the” one you must have, you likely can walk away with it at the end of the show.

All in all the first Saturday night racing card appeared to us as a big hit and with 3 to go will likely continue to grow. Each night has a theme and next Saturday its Food Truck Festival night, on the 23rd College night where fans with a College ID or Alumni ID will get free admission with food and beverage specials and live music. The final Saturday night card will be dollar night with dollar admission and other dollar specials.

Saturday night’s in July is a great time for the adults to cut loose after spending a day at the pool or beach with the kids why not treat yourself with a group of friends. It’s a great time we highly recommend it.

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By paulb

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