More than 150 horses were on the grounds Monday as Thoroughbreds began training for the 2020 live racing season at Emerald Downs in Auburn.
A familiar white face was the first horse on the track as Barkley jogged a mile under Jennifer Whitaker at 8 a.m. sharp. Winner of the 2018 Longacres Mile, the 7-year-old chestnut is 10 for 18 lifetime with six stakes wins and $363,625 in earnings for trainer Howard Belvoir and owner Rising Star Stable III.
Director of Racing Bret Anderson reports stall applications are practically even to last year’s total, with 73 trainers applying for 1,062 stalls. Among the expected newcomers is Juan Pablo Silva, the leading trainer at Turf Paradise with 59 wins through Sunday at the Phoenix track. A 43-year-old native of Tijuana, Mexico, Silva has applied for 38 stalls at Emerald Downs.
In addition to Belvoir, other trainers on hand Monday included Tom Wenzel, Blaine Wright, Sharon Ross, Steve Bullock, Chris Stenslie and Vince Gibson. The trainer and horse population is expected to increase daily as runners gear up for the 25th season of live racing at Emerald Downs.
Training hours are 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with no renovation break. Beginning Feb. 19, training hours change to 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with renovation from 10 to 10:30 a.m.
Opening day for the 63-day live racing season is Saturday, April 18. The first stakes is the Seattle Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on May 10. The 85th renewal of the $200,000 Longacres Mile (Grade 3) is Sunday, Aug. 9 and anchors a Championship Sunday quadruple-header featuring the Emerald Distaff, Muckleshoot Derby and Washington Oaks.