Emerald Downs had an average daily handle of $1.79 million during a shortened 2020 season that concluded Oct. 29. The average daily handle last season was $1.1 million. Fans were not allowed at the races, including during this photo from opening day. FILE PHOTO, Kent Reporter

Emerald Downs had an average daily handle of $1.79 million during a shortened 2020 season that concluded Oct. 29. The average daily handle last season was $1.1 million. Fans were not allowed at the races, including during this photo from opening day. FILE PHOTO, Kent Reporter

Emerald Downs concludes season with daily wagering up 61% over last year

Off-track fans bet average of $1.79 million per day during 38-day session

It turned out to be a busy year for horse racing betting at Emerald Downs in Auburn even without spectators.

Daily wagering averaged $1.79 million, a 61% increase over last year’s average of $1.1 million, according to Emerald Downs. Most of the wagering came from internet and mobile site customers located throughout the United States and Canada.

Fans bet $1.65 million on opening day June 24 and kept on wagering throughout the season during the track’s two days per week it ran live racing. Mobile wagering and off-track betting generates as much as 90 percent of the handle at Emerald Downs in a typical season, so the money kept flowing at the track this season in even larger average amounts.

Emerald Downs concluded its 38-day 2020 racing season on Oct. 29. The track’s 25th season was conducted with strict COVID-19 protocols and without spectators.

Track president Phil Ziegler reported there were no positive COVID cases.

“We want to thank all our stakeholders for working together safely,” Ziegler said in a Emerald Downs website post. “We had unprecedented challenges not only at the track but in all aspects of our lives. We were the first professional sport to return in the state of Washington and through everyone’s efforts we were able to put on a healthy and successful meet.”

Good health was not limited to the human participants. Over the 391 races conducted there were zero catastrophic breakdowns from the 2,895 starters.

On the track accomplishments included trainer Blaine Wright winning his first Longacres Mile with Anothertwistafate, Frank Lucarelli winning his seventh training title with 42 wins and Alex Cruz taking the jockey title with 72 wins in his first season at Emerald Downs.

2020 season timeline

• Barn area and training begins Feb. 1. Opening Day scheduled for April 18.

• Stay at Home order issued by governor on March 16. Only essential workers permitted in stable area as training and horse care continued. Opening Day delayed indefinitely.

• Approvals to run live racing (and other professional sports) posted by governor’s office on June 5.

• Washington Horse Racing Commission approves revised dates. Opening Day set for June 24 with racing Wednesdays and Thursdays without fans.

• June 24 – Opening Day. Horse racing becomes the first professional sport to return in Washington.

• Longacres Mile is run on Thursday Sept. 10 marking the first weekday running and the first time run under the lights.

• The 38-day race meet concludes on Oct. 29.


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Emerald Downs had an average daily handle of $1.79 million during a shortened 2020 season that concluded Oct. 29. The average daily handle last season was $1.1 million. Fans were not allowed at the races, including during this photo from opening day. FILE PHOTO, Kent Reporter
Emerald Downs concludes season with daily wagering up 61% over last year

Off-track fans bet average of $1.79 million per day during 38-day session