Continuing our countdown to the 2017 live racing season at Emerald Downs, today we examine barn rules and etiquette.
One of the great things about the Emerald Racing Club is that you are allowed access to one of the most interesting areas in Thoroughbred racing–the barn area, aka “The Backstretch.”
However, as someone who has visited stables for nearly three decades, I’ve learned all about the necessary rules and guidelines in place for safety and security reasons. A couple of key things to remember at all times:
The barn area houses nearly a thousand horses and is a serious work place.
Thoroughbreds weigh half a ton, and every once in a while one gets loose, so always be on your toes and alert when visiting the barns.
Firstly, the barn is open to visitors 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (the track is closed on Tuesdays during the live racing season). The afternoon is the quiet rest time for both horses and grooms. Please be respectful of their work and only visit during the hours designated above.
The barn is NOT OPEN to visitors any time on Saturday and Sunday if our trainers have a horse entered that day. As we approach the season, however, we’ll have a couple of weekend gatherings to familiarize ourselves with the barn area.
Once the season starts, bear in mind that race days are a busy time for the staff with horses getting special attention on those days. In addition to ERC, Larry and Sharon Ross and Mike Puhich have several other clients and we don’t want to interfere with race day preparation at their barns.In the past, we’ve had volunteers willing to escort ERC members back to the barn area. So please let me know if anyone’s interested!
The backstretch can be a little overwhelming, with a tremendous amount of hustle and bustle, so try and make it out for our informal gathering on Sunday, March 19! In addition to watching horses train, we’ll walk to the backstretch and show the exact location of the Ross and Puhich barns. We’ll have another gathering on Sunday, March 26.
Larry and Sharon Ross, as usual, are located in Barn 2 West.
Mike Puhich is located one barn north, in Barn 3 West.
I realize those numbers probably mean little to you, especially the newcomers. So in an upcoming entry I will post a diagram that highlights the key locations.
Watch training anytime! You are welcome to come out to the track and watch training at any time on the track apron (the tarmac stretching in front of the grandstand all along the track to the turn and Quarter Chute Cafe). Training hours currently are 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Once the season begins the hours are 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 am, with a renovation break from 8:30 to 9.
And once we acquire a horse, we’ll get together with the trainer and inform everyone of that horse’s daily routine. For example, the daily time the horse goes to the track for training and workouts, etc.
The track kitchen aka Quarter Chute Cafe is open to the public and a great place to watch training. You’ll also likely see Sharon Ross walking back and forth (or driving her golf cart) as each set of horses goes out to train. Ditto with Mike Puhich once he arrives from Pegasus with his string of runners later this month.
Emerald Downs’ gates open at approximately 9 am, so if you arrive earlier you’ll have to enter by the Quarter Chute Cafe and walk up the track apron towards the grandstand.
Some general barn rules:
1) During the live racing season (April 8 to September 17) visit only on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Current training hours are 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
2) No barn visits on weekends if a horse from the Ross barn or Puhich barn is entered. You are still welcome to watch training.
3) Do not walk through other people’s barns. Our horses will be located in either Barn 2 West or Barn 3 West. It is disrespectful to go through other shed rows without an invitation.
4) Wear your Emerald Racing Club lanyard with your WHRC license. The new lanyards arrived today!
5) If you have guests accompanying you, you must sign them in at security and accompany them at all times. Keep groups small – no larger than 6 in a group.
6) Horses bite, kick and can be reactive. Use good “horse sense” when in the barns. NEVER reach out to a horse you don’t know and keep your eyes and ears open at all times.
7) What happens in the barn, stays in the barn!
As of Wednesday, we have 183 people registered in the Emerald Racing Club, so there’s still room for a few more! Opening night–Saturday, April 8–is exactly one month from today!
Thursday’s topic: First of a two-part series on out 2017 trainers, featuring Larry and Sharon Ross. We’ll meet Mike Puhich on Friday.