Tough Crowd at Emerald Downs Auction

Auctioneers faced a very tough crowd on Tuesday, 2 September 2008, at the Morris J. Alhadeff Sales Pavilion, Emerald Downs, during the annual summer yearling sale hosted by the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association. Sales and auctions across the country have been feeling the impact of the economy, and with median sales figures declining by approximately forty five percent, the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association summer yearling sale suffered the same fate. But besides for a general drop in purchases, there were a few sales that stood out and lightened the mood.

The Auction Event

On Tuesday, September 2, 2008, at the Morris J. Alhadeff Sales Pavilion, Emerald Downs auctioneers faced a rather tough crowd during the annual summer yearling sale hosted by the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association.

Sales and auctions around the nation have felt the effect of the economy. The Summer Yearling Sale of the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association experienced the same fate with median sales figures falling by approximately 45%. Yet, there were a few deals that stood out and lightened the mood, despite a general decline in purchases.

The auction report revealed the sales of 114 horses out of 119 on offer. The average sales price for the day was $11,224, while the median price was $6,500. The gross sales figure was $1,279,500, with the highest price at the auction being $92,000 for a filly and $47,000 for a colt. In comparison to last year’s revenues, this year’s auction’s sales were 40% less by comparison, carrying the lowest gross sales since 1978.

The top selling price of the day was for a filly, Cherokee Echo, sired by Cherokee Run and out of the mare, Silver Echo. Dave and Jill Heerensperger paid $92,000 for the yearling, which recently won the Barbara Shinpoch Stakes at Emerald Downs. Cherokee Run is a leading sire, and his descendants have collectively gained $34.4 million in winnings, thus far.

The second highest price for the auction was also taken by a filly. Hip 52 F was purchased by Mark Dedomenico, and consigned by El Dorado Farms LLC, for $50 000. The filly, which was sired by City Zip, was out of the mare, Stormbow, which is also a daughter of the legendary Storm Cat.

A colt was also purchased by Jeff Bonde, and consigned by El Dorado Farms, for $47,000, which was by Slewdledo and out of the mare, Go for Jackie. The colt is the half-brother of Indian Weaver. In third spot, a filly, was purchased for $45,000, sired by You and I and out of the mare, Cascade Corona.  Jeff Bonde also purchased Hold That Tiger, a yearling sired, out of Sandra Smiles, for $40,000.

Not only do gamblers take their risks at Emerald Downs and similar venues, so do those who buy horses. While auctioneers try to coax higher prices from bidders, you will always hear tales of both disappointment and celebration.

The Emerald Downs’ Racetrack

Emerald Downs is a one-mile oval race track designed especially for thoroughbred racing. The racetrack is located in Auburn, Washington, and lies between Seattle and Tacoma. The 167-acre site features a six-tier stadium, providing commanding views of the one-mile oval from all angles. Racing season spans from April to September each year.

Resting in the shadow of Washington’s Mt. Rainier, Emerald Downs has developed the reputation of being a premier racing destination in the Pacific Northwest. Some of the big stake events the track has hosted include the Longacres Mile, the Emerald Breeders Cup Derby, and the Washington Breeders’ Cup Oaks.

When Racing Began at Emerald Downs

Emerald Downs opened on June 20, 1996. The track replaced the Longacres Track, which closed in September 1992 after 60 seasons of thoroughbred racing. The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe bought the land where Emerald Downs is located in 2002.

Purchasing the facilities and track buildings for approximately $70 million, the tribe formed Emerald Downs Racing LLC in 2015. Since that time, the tribe has made a series of improvements, including the addition of a 1,150-foot infield big screen for enhanced race viewing and excitement. The track celebrated its 20th anniversary on Monday, June 20, 2016. During the night’s celebration, the track hosted many of the stars who have contributed to horse racing during Emerald Downs’ two decades of operations.

Leading Jockeys at Emerald Downs

Among jockeys who have rode at Emerald Downs, Gallyn Mitchell is the top rider, boasting 1,419 wins from the track’s opening in 1996 to the present (2020). The top female jockey is Jennifer Whitaker, who has posted 457 wins, as of 2020.

Tips for First Time Bidders

At a horse auction, a ticket, which acknowledges a purchase, is signed by the winning bidder and sent to the sales office for review. If you, as the buyer, are unknown to the office, the horse can be sent back to the ring and resold. That is why horse buyers need to familiarize themselves with a race track and its auction rules and guidelines.

All thoroughbred auctioneers in the U.S. chant during the bidding process, which is quite incomprehensible to anyone who has not previously attended an auction. Happily, thanks to an electronic “bid board,” bidders do not have to rely on the auctioneer to decipher bids. The best thing for an inexperienced bidder to do is to ask a bid-spotter for help before the bidding starts. He or she can act as a mentor and guide you through any pitfalls with miscommunication. Don’t worry. You won’t own a horse by merely nodding your head during bidding. It takes more than that to win a bid.

One Final Note

Whether you are placing a bet or buying a horse at Emerald Downs, or any race track, you need to be prepared and understand the nature of betting or buying in this venue. Whether you buy or bet, make sure you familiarize yourself with horse racing and the practices that are unique to this sports activity.  It is a game of chance, and on Thursday, breeders took their chances at the auction.