‘It’s such a thrill:’ Emerald Downs Racetrack prepares for opening day

AUBURN, Wash. -- The opening of races at Emerald Downs Racetrack is just around the corner!

Q13 News anchor Liz Dueweke visited the track in early March, while the snow was still on the ground, to see what goes into the big event.

When we visited the track, it was much quieter than you would see in say, July, but the jockeys, groomers and trainers were still buzzing with excitement in preparation for the first races of the season.

Doris Harwood is one of those trainers. She has done this for 35 years and spent some time talking with Q13 News in between training horses and says this offseason is a lot like any sport, with her athletes in spring training.

“My job is a lot like a football coach because I’ve got my team members,” said Harwood. “But they happen to be equine members with four legs that can’t talk.”

And the goal for this coach is to get her team members ready to run on April 20. It’s a common goal for many of the trainers we spoke with, like Steve Bullock. His horse, “Sippin’ Fire” was named Washington Horse of the Year in 2018.

“It’s such a thrill,” said Bullock. “They are like your kids and when your kids play sports, you want them to be the best. It’s like that.”

It’s a thrill for spectators as well and moments many will experience live in a few weeks.

Track president Phil Ziegler says it’s that experience, along with the iconic sights and smells that keep people coming back to Emerald Downs every year to make new memories.

“We have one of the best views of Mt. Rainier,” said Zieger. “So when you come out, you see the houses, and the mountain in the background, and smell the hot dogs and French fries, and the kids are petting the ponies. It’s a county fair almost every day we have racing."

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