Emerald Downs opens racing year on April 17

The thoroughbred horses will break out of the gates for the first time April 17 for Opening Night at Emerald Downs. This year marks the 14th anniversary of the Auburn horse racing track.

The $83 million oval opened its gates June 20, 1996, four years after the closing of Longacres.

Admission prices have increased from years past to $7, which includes access to the first five levels of the stadium, the paddock and park. Children under 17 get in free and kids 13 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Preferred parking is $7 and valet parking is $10. Parking in the general lot is free.

The biggest day of racing at Emerald Downs this summer will again be the 74th running of the $300,000 Longacres Mile on Aug. 16. The total purse for the marquee race was increased by $50,000 last year because of Breeders’ Cup Stakes funding, and becomes one of the most important stops on the Road to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships’ $1 Million Dirt Mile.

The best horse to run last season at Emerald Downs will also be back. Wasserman earned Horse of the Meeting, Top Washington-bred, Top Older Horse and Top Sprinter honors after last year’s season. In addition, Jennifer Whitaker, Wasserman’s regular rider, was voted Top Riding Achievement for becoming the first woman to win the $300,000 2008 Longacres Mile.

Members of the media, Emerald Downs officials and racing office personnel, voted the year-end awards.

The 91-day calendar reflects a Friday-through-Sunday schedule until Thursdays are added beginning May 28. There will be holiday racing on Memorial Day (Monday, May 25) and Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 7). First race post times are 6 p.m. on weekdays and 2 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

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