Emerald Downs, Muckelshoots form partnership


The Mirror

Emerald Downs and the Muckleshoot Tribe are going into business with each other.

The horse racing track in Auburn and the tribe announced Thursday the formation of a partnership featuring an investment by the Muckleshoots in the Washington horse-racing industry. The Muckleshoot Tribe has committed over $1.6 million in purses and a vocational training program for grooms at Emerald Downs for the remainder of 2004 and the 2005 racing seasons. The partnership will result in a 15 percent increase in average daily purses paid at the track starting tomorrow.

“This is probably the most significant announcement we’ve made since we said we were going to build Emerald Downs,” said track President Ron Crockett. “This increase provides a solid foundation for racing’s long-term existence and success in Washington.”

The new daily average for purses of $104,000 for the remainder of 2004 and a projected $106,000 in 2005 represents the highest in Emerald Downs’ eight years of operations.

“We’re delighted to count the Muckleshoot Tribe as partners in creating a thriving racing industry,” Crockett said. “This arrangement will, without question, greatly enhance the benefits of owning, breeding and racing thoroughbreds in Washington.”

In return for their investment the Muckleshoot Tribe will be the beneficiaries of a significant cross-marketing partnership, including the title sponsorship of the Washington Cup Classic on Washington Cup Day Sept. 19. The new groom school will be geared toward Muckleshoot Tribe members and will teach safety and horse handling, equipment and its uses, bandaging, bathing, sales preparation skills and how to put tack on and off thoroughbred horses.

“There are so many synergies between the interests of the tribe and the success of horse racing at Emerald Downs,” said Muckleshoot Tribal Chair John Daniels, Jr. “The heritage of our people celebrates the human and horse partnership and will be enhanced by the creation of a groom school for tribal members to begin careers in the racing business, a joint marketing agreement allows us access to a lucrative and previously unavailable customer base for our casino operations and the value of our investment in the Emerald Downs property is directly related to the success of the racing business.”

This is not the tribe’s first involvement with Emerald Downs. The Muckleshoots actually own the 167 acres Emerald Downs sits on. The tribe purchased the land in 2002 for $73 million.

The track also announced its intentions to extend next year’s 2005 race meeting schedule to 101 race days. The track will run four days a week from mid-April until mid-October. This season the track will be open 90 days.

The investment to purses from the Muckleshoot Tribe as well as expected gains from advance deposit wagering and off-track simulcasting make it possible to run longer at a much higher purse level than previous years.

“A healthy racing industry contributes over $330 million annually to the state economy, is responsible for thousands of jobs and preserves green space for the breeding raising and training of horses amid a climate of expansive development,” Daniels said. “There are many direct and indirect benefits to our tribe by making sure racing thrives.”

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

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