(Auburn, WA) The 2024 thoroughbred racing season will open on Saturday, May 4th at Emerald Downs. The 55-day race meet begins with a 1-day, opening day week tomorrow followed by racing on Saturday and Sunday only until the first Friday night of racing on May 31st and then 3 days a week until closing in September.

Saturday’s 1st card has 7 races with 1st race post time of 1:30pm. The Kentucky Derby is squished in at mid card about 3:45pm and of course you can wager on all the local races and the Run for the Roses at Emerald Downs.

The track’s promotion department is up and running on opening day with the Fabulous Hat Contest that has $1,000 in prizes awarded to those with the most spectacular hats in celebration of the Kentucky Derby.

Most of the top jockey’s are back this season with 4-time defending champion Alex Cruz seeking an unprecedented 5th straight riding title leading the way. Cruz is coming in from Turf Paradise where he had a solid campaign finishing with 33 wins, 3rd in the standings and skipping their closing day also set for tomorrow.

Newcomer’s Karlo Lopez and Brayan Pena are both headed to Emerald but both will remain in Phoenix on Saturday for Turf Paradise’s closing day. Lopez is the leading rider with 48 wins and the Saturday card to go. Pena is in 6th with 23 wins.

Juan Gutierrez

Other riders coming back include Silvio Amador, Carlos Montalvo, Kevin Orozco, Jose Zunino and Javier Matias. Tracks favorites Kevin Radke and Jennifer Whitacker will also be back but both are healing up from injuries. One big name has returned as well and that’s the all-time leading rider at Emerald Downs, Juan Gutierrez who took last year off. There are several other riders listed and we hope to cover them all as we get a chance to meet them.

Last year’s leading trainer Justin Evans is back and ready to defend his title and will have a big presence in the barns. Other familiar conditioners back include Blaine Wright, Frank Lucarelli who is the all-time leading trainer at Emerald, Tim McCanna who is #2 on the all-time wins list and just 29 wins from 1,000 in Auburn.

Leading Stakes trainer Tom Wenzel is back along with Charlie Essex who was 2nd in Stakes wins last season. A racing season in the Northwest wouldn’t be the same without Howard Belvoir, Kay Cooper, Vince Gibson, Steve Bullock, Rigoberto Velazquez, Robbie Baze and of course Candy Cryderman.

Justin Evans and Family

Some of the newer trainers from the past few seasons are back as well led by 2022 leading trainer Jorge Rosales, Shelly Crowe, Kim Johnston, Luciano Medina Gabriel, Hilario Lopez and Jill Sorrano. These trainers have all received their 2024 license from the racing commission there are likely several others who will get their licenses when they return. We hope to see trainers like Joe Toye, David Martinez and Dan Markle to come back.

Leading owner last year was also the leading trainer Justin Evans so he certainly will be back along with John Parker, George Todaro, Lusk Racing and Oak Crest Farms.

The Stakes racing calendar begins on June 15 with the Seattle Stakes and is again highlighted by the Longacres Mile set for Sunday, August 11 as part of Championship Sunday. The 89th edition of the Mile will run for $150,000 in purse money and be joined on that day with the 87th Muckleshoot Derby, the 45th Oaks and the 29th Emerald Distaff.

Tom Harris

And finally, race fans will likely recognize a familiar voice back in the announcer’s booth as Tom Harris returns to call the 2024 season. Harris was the 2nd announcer after longtime caller Robert Geller and then Matt Dinerman and Bill Downes. Downes moved on after last season to take over Golden Gate. Harris’s booming voice will once again bring the horses home.

For all things Emerald Downs be sure to check out their website at: https://emeralddowns.com/



By paulb

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