Handing Over the Reins

Many of you may have heard that I have accepted another position and am leaving Emerald Downs.

Management of the Emerald Racing Club will be a team effort of Vince Bruun, Director of Media, and Jacob Pollowitz, Asst. Director of Media. Both you met at Club Orientation on Opening Weekend.

Jacob is our CSN co-host, makes expert picks in the program as Professor Pollowitz and works behind the scenes in the Press Box. He also picked out Archie Graham for the Club. Vince is a long-time horse racing media writer and director with more years experience in horse racing than I’ve been alive! They will be exceptionally skilled in continuing with the communication and education of the Club.

It has been my true pleasure to launch the Emerald Racing Club and go on the journey of horse ownership with you. My heart will always be with the majestic racehorses that powerfully stride down the homestretch. To that end, I will continue to work behind the scenes with the Prodigious Fund, Emerald Downs’ retired racehorse fund.

And I’ll be first in line to join the Emerald Racing Club next year as a member!

I’ve truly enjoyed the relationships I’ve developed with many of you and would like to invite you to stay in touch and I’d be happy to continue to be a resource for you if you have any racing-related questions, comments or concerns.

My personal email is sophiamckee@adrenaline360.net and my cell is 253-508-9441.

Happy racing!




Archie Graham Wins Debut for ERC


You should still be basking in the glow of victory! Many thanks to trainers Larry & Sharon Ross, jockey Leslie Mawing, exercise rider Brian Allen, and the grooms; Arturo, Miguel and Angel! It really is a team effort to get each and every horse to the races and a superb job by everyone in the Ross barn.

Archie Graham won the 9th race Sunday, May 15 in breathtaking last to first fashion.

You can replay the race by clicking here. Full chart is here.

_10V0401 _10V0409 _10V0417

At the end of the day we all have our memories of the experience, but we also have the very official (and coveted) “Win Photo” taken by the track photographer.

You may order one from Reed Palmer Photography (official track photographer) for $10. This is a special promotional rate offered to Emerald Racing Club members. Email reedp@emeralddowns.com or call 503-380-0430 to request your photo.

For future reference (and wins), the track photographer is located on ground level of the Grandstand to your left before you exit the main gates. The photos are copyrighted, please don’t print from here.


You may now be asking yourself, what did we actually win?


We can turn to the chart to see:


For Archie’s first place finish the Club earned $6,325.

Of that 10% is paid to the trainer, 10% to the jockey, and 1% stake to the grooms in the barn.







There’s an additional $5 for Prodigious Fund (retired racehorse fund) and another fee for jockey insurance of $6.50. Those will all be detailed in our Horsemen’s account statement when we review May financials next month.

So all in all you won $4,985.25! (Plus your winning tickets!)

Archie Update

Archie came out of the race in fine fashion. He has walked the past three days and will be back on the track tomorrow for a jog. Sharon will evaluate how he feels and we’ll make a game plan for his next race.

Next Horse

The Club is actively shopping for it’s next horse. We had identified a horse on Saturday that we opted to pass on after seeing the horse in the flesh. This has happened multiple times thus far and while we are eager to acquire the second horse for the Club, but patience is required to find the perfect fit! Stay tuned!

Paddock List and Details for Sunday, May 15

Paddock List

The lucky dozen going to the paddock are:

  • Bernadine Fomich
  • Terry Hall
  • Julia Fincher
  • Tina Pyatt
  • Jeff Campbell
  • Jan Reed
  • Alexis Hancock
  • Gary Maynard
  • Erika Hoffmire
  • David Pitts
  • Terry Kostatelos
  • Curtis Soares

Meet at the entrance to the Paddock (by where the jockeys cross into the paddock) immediately after the running of the 8th race. One of our customer service staff will escort you into the paddock for Archie’s race. Wear your lanyard! Your loved ones will need to stay outside the paddock and get fabulous photos of you and your racehorse!

For the rest of you…you can see Archie being saddled from the outside of the paddock. The best view will be on the North side, so you’ll have to cross the horse path up by the track and then walk down on the other side. You can see from the photo, it’s on the far side where there aren’t many people.

paddock high

After he is saddled, cheer him on from your favorite (lucky) spot!

Jockey Leslie Mawing will be wearing our silks and Archie will have a black saddle towel for post position # 6.


Emerald Racing Club silks

The race has come up quite salty and competitive with some very consistent runners coming out to challenge him.

IF Archie Graham should win…queue outside the Winner’s Circle on the South side and then we’ll bring you all down on the racetrack for the all important win photo.

Alas, there is no sure thing in horse racing and as owners, as long as he returns to the barn safe and healthy, that’s all we ask for.


There is no designated area for the Emerald Racing Club for Sunday. You may pick your favorite spot to watch the races with your friends and family. However, be aware that section 15 on the 3rd floor of the Grandstand is free seating for horsemen (that’s you!). Wear your lanyard and license to be seated in that area.

Also, there is free seating in the Clubhouse Reserved seating on level five. Once you get off the elevators head North and then walk towards the track and you’ll see the stadium seating. It is climate-controlled, so may be a great option if it is cool on Sunday.


Watch From Home

For those of you unable to attend you can watch the race LIVE on Emeralddowns.com under Racing>Live Streaming OR you can download the Horse Races NOW app on your iPhone or Droid and watch the race live.

Won’t be free to watch him run? You can relive every moment watching the race replays at emeralddowns.com Racing>Race Replays

Media Coverage

The following is from our Media Department and went out in our Barn Notes this week:


The Emerald Racing Club will make its 2016 debut Sunday when 4-year-old gelding Archie Graham takes on seven other older horses in a $10,000 claiming race at one mile.

With 200 members in tow, the Emerald Racing Club could be in line for a big season. After all, the syndicate has assembled a sparkling 5-3-1 record in 15 starts over the past two years.

As for Archie Graham, the gray son of Grazen has a 3-3-3 record in 18 career starts including a third-place effort on March 24 when trainer Larry Ross claimed the gelding for $8,000 at Golden Gate. Since his last race, Archie Graham has posted three workouts at Emerald Downs including a swift five-furlong breeze in :59 4/5 (5/32) on April 30.

Archie Graham to Race Sunday, May 15

Archie is in! Archie will run in race 9 on Sunday, May 15. The race is a $10,000 claiming race going one mile.

He will be in post position 6 in a field of 8. Leslie Mawing will have the mount.

All this information is on the “overnight” which is the precursor to the official racing program. The overnight is produced immediately after the entries are drawn. You can find it on Equibase here.

For admission to the races, you can get in with your owner’s license and then use your two horsemen guest passes for two additional friends or family members. If you require additional admission passes, we will be leaving them under “Emerald Racing Club” at the Will Call admission gate. So be sure to invite your friends!

A part of being an owner on race day is going into the paddock. Given the number of members, we cannot accommodate you all so we will have a random draw in advance (and then rotate throughout the season). If you plan to attend the races on Sunday and would like to be included for paddock consideration, EMAIL emeraldracingclub@gmail.com before 2 pm on Saturday, May 14 with your NAME. I will post a blog that evening with the people that will have paddock access as well as instructions on where you’ll need to be.

Happy racing!


Scoping, EIPH and Lasix

Archie Graham was scoped after his last workout. “Scoping” refers to an endoscopic exam by which a vet is able to examine a horse’s airways. A long, flexible camera tube is slid into the horse’s nostril to view their airways.

(see video of a horse getting scoped below, if viewing via email, you won’t see video. Go to www.emeraldracingclub.com for video to play)

Vets are able to use this tool to determine if a horse has any condition that may inhibit it’s ability to breathe.

In Archie’s case, we were checking to see if he had any bleeding. Bleeding, or EIPH (exercised induced pulmonary hemorrhage) is caused when the blood pressure builds in the lung capillaries and the capillaries burst, resulting in blood in the lungs. EIPH can affect performance, but also lead to respiratory infections.

According to some studies, it is estimated that 90% of racehorses have experienced EIPH. During a race or fast workout, a racehorse will consume 19 gallons of oxygen/minute, heart rate increases to 220 beats/min, 3 pints of blood are pumped through the heart per beat, and 75 plus gallons of blood are pumped through the horse’s lung every minute.

To prevent this condition, anti-bleeder supplements have been developed and the medication, Lasix, is permitted on race day. Lasix is the same medication that is used in humans as a diuretic. It has a similar effect in racehorses. A horse administered Lasix will eliminate water weight through urine prior to a race. The Lasix then reduces the blood pressure in the lungs and reduces the risk of bleeding.

In Archie’s case, we know he runs on Lasix (as seen on the charts) and we plan to administer Lasix on race day. We cannot know if he has actively bled in the past, but for his well being, we work to prevent the condition.

There has been much discussion and debate about the administration of race day medication (Lasix and Bute). One segment is WHOA (Water, Hay, Oats Alliance) that doesn’t believe in administration of race day medications, and the other segment that does believe there is a benefit in the administration of such drugs.

As an owner, you have to decide where in that debate you feel comfortable. That decision should be made after thorough research of both sides and active discussion with your trainer and vet on the best decision for your individual horse based on their well being and personal needs.

Archie Graham Race Update

Archie will be entered on Wednesday in Extra Race 2 to be run on Saturday, May 14. The race is a $10,000 claiming race for three year olds and upward going one mile. You can view the extra on the bottom of the Friday Overnight here.

We will know Wednesday afternoon if the race has filled and is being used.

Should Archie run on Saturday, I will post a blog detailing the paddock process for the day, where you can view the races and how to request will call through the Horsemen’s Liaison.

Happy racing!

Archie Graham’s Papers

There’s often mention of a horse’s foal papers. But what, exactly, are they?

Each Thoroughbred is registered as a foal with The Jockey Club. It is the official Thoroughbred breed registry (many other breeds have similar organizations, i.e. American Quarter Horse Association, Arabian Horse Association, etc).

The papers are the horse’s official record, a birth certificate of sorts. It also includes a description of the horse’s markings.

papers_frontFrom Archie’s registration, we can see that his marks are noted as:

Medium star and connected bordered stripe, becoming flesh colored on bridge of nose, widening above nostrils, ending between nostrils, into left nostril; flesh colored lower lip.

Median cowlick at top of eye level.

Left hind: three quarters irregular stocking, higher to a point in front, lower on outside and in back.

Cowlick behind poll on both sides; cowlick at throat latch, cowlick in jugular groove on left side.

Patches of white hairs throughout coat.


Archie’s connected medium star and stripe.

Once the horse comes into the track with the intent to race, they will also get a tattoo on the inside of their upper lip.

The markings and tattoo are used by the identifier to verify each runner prior to coming to the paddock to race. This is done at the test barn where the horses queue up prior to walking over to the paddock.

face markings leg markings

Cowlicks (swirls of hair) are as unique as fingerprints to a horse and are formed as the horse develops in the womb. So you could have two identical black horses, with no white markings, but distinguish between the two by cowlicks. This is why they are noted along with the white markings.

Example of a cowlick

Example of a cowlick

In horse racing, the horse’s papers accompany the horse to each track it races at. If a horse is a two-year old and it is their first time at the track, they cannot enter a race until their papers are on file with the race office.

In Archie’s case, when we talk about him being “in jail” that means that Golden Gate is holding his papers until the 45 day period is up. Once it is up, the physical papers will be mailed to the Emerald Downs racing office, making him eligible to enter a race.

The back of the foal papers keep a record of the horse’s wins.

papers_backAdditional documentation continues with the record of the transfer of ownership when the horse is claimed or sold.


And finally, any nominations of the foal accompany the horse. You may be surprised to learn that Archie was nominated to the Breeders’ Cup as a foal!


Archie Workout

Archie had a good 5/8 work on Saturday, getting the distance in 59.80 which was 5 of 23 for the distance that morning. Link to equibase workouts here.

He came out of the work breathing hard and we had him scoped after the work to check his lungs for bleeding. A few of you were even lucky enough to watch it and look down the scope into his lungs.

Sharon will see how he recovers this week and we’ll make a determination on what race he will be pointed to.


Archie Workout Recap

Workout Recap

On Saturday, Archie had his first workout for the Club. He worked a 1/2 mile in 49 seconds, which was 14 of 28 for the distance. Jockey Leslie Mawing reported that Archie felt good and did the work easily.

You can find all this information yourself by going to http://www.emeralddowns.com, Click on “Racing” tab, then “Workouts”.

Link to Archie’s workout is here. You can also set up a free virtual stable through Equibase and it will send you a notification any time Archie works or is entered to run. You may notice that he’s still listed with Lloyd Mason as the trainer. Equibase will update it’s system once Archie is entered to run under the Ross barn.

I also captured the work on my cell phone, but the quality is poor (if viewing in email, the videos won’t play. Visit emeraldracingclub.com for the videos referenced):


If you came to watch the morning workout, or have been out for training, you might get a little disoriented on where the horses are on the track and where they are going. As a rule of thumb, all horses traveling at a canter or gallop travel counter-clockwise around the track. The faster the horse goes, the closer to the rail they move. If a horse is jogging, they can “backtrack”, which means going counter to traffic on the outside rail.

Jogging and/or trotting is a two-beat gait where the legs move diagonally together. Jogging is a term typically used by Western riders for a slow jog, but in racing lingo jog and trot are often interchanged.

Below is a slow motion video that shows both the canter and trot (and added bonus, the horse’s skeletal structure is painted on him!).

The canter is a three-beat gait. This may be faster than a trot, but is generally a relaxed gait that is modest in speed. As the horse picks up speed, they will transition from three-beats to the four-beat gallop.

Showing the three beats at a canter.

Showing the three beats at a canter.

When Archie Graham works and trains he is at a gallop. The gallop is a four-beat gait where each foot hits the ground independently and then there is the moment of suspension where you get the dramatic photos of the horses with all four feet off the ground.

If you make it out to watch future training, you’ll likely see all of these gaits performed by Archie as he goes through his morning training. First, he will jog backwards to the 1/2 mile pole, then turn around and gallop a mile to a mile and a half counter clockwise. After he pulls up, he’ll turn around and jog back to the “gap”. The gap is quite literally the “gap” in the fence where the horses come on and off the track. You are lucky at Emerald Downs that we only have one gap and it is located at the quarter chute. Other tracks may have multiple locations where the horses can access the track.

At Emerald Downs (and tracks the world over), red and white striped poles are located every 1/4 mile. You may have heard the term “quarter pole”. Since our track is one mile around you will find four red and white striped poles. The 1/8th poles are located in between the red and white and are green and white striped. The 1/16th of a mile poles are black and white and are more slender than the others.

The next time you are at Emerald Downs, start at the finish line and work your way backwards down the track and see if you can identify all the poles. The first you’ll find is black and white and is 1/16th from the finish. The next is green and white and is 1/8th of a mile from the finish. Then a red and white 1/4 mile from the finish.

Archie worked 4 furlongs. A furlong is an 1/8th of a mile so 4 furlongs equals a 1/2 mile. When Archie worked, he would pick up speed on the back part of the racetrack and the goal is that he hits race speeds as he goes by the 1/2 mile pole. That is when the clockers will start their stopwatches. He finishes his work at the finish line and the clockers would stop their watches then.

On occasion, a trainer may opt to work a horse past the wire (finish line). This means they may have a 1/2 mile work start at the 3/8 pole and go a 1/8 mile past the finish line. Horses learn very quickly where the finish line is, so this strategy of training past the finish line can teach them to keep running hard all the way until the end.


Orientation Recap and Barn Rules

Thank you to everyone that was able to attend orientation! Just a reminder for those unable to attend, please make arrangements to get your lanyard. You’ll need to have this when accessing the backstretch. Email me at emeraldracingclub@gmail.com to organize a pick up on your next visit.

The morning started off with a easy gallop for Archie Graham. He looked relaxed and happy as he galloped one mile.


Once Archie gets in a regular training schedule I will alert you to when you can expect him to train on a daily basis.



The barn is open to visitors 6:30 am – 12:30 am on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (track is closed on Tuesdays). 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. Archie Graham is located in barn 2 West.

The barn is NOT OPEN to visitors any time on Saturday and Sunday if the Ross’ have a horse entered. Race days are a busy time for the staff and the horses get special attention on these days. For this reason, we ask that you refrain from visiting the barn on the weekend if they have a horse entered. If they do not have a horse entered, visiting hours are the same as noted during the week. We have volunteers willing to escort you back to the barn if you have never visited before so please email me if you’d like some guidance for your first visit. The backstretch can be a little overwhelming!

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 are 6:30 am – 11:30 am, with a renovation break at 8:30 – 9. The track is closed for training on Tuesdays. Once Archie is in a routine, I’ll alert you to when he typically will be on the track to train.

The track kitchen aka Quarter Chute Cafe is open to the public and is 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. If you are wearing your lanyard, she’ll be able to easily recognize you as a Club member.

Emerald Downs gates do not open until approximately 9 am, so if you come before that, you’ll have to enter by the Quarterchute Cafe and walk up the track apron towards the grandstand.

Barn Rules:

1) Visits only Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday between 6:30 am – 12:30 am

2) No barn visits on weekends if a horse from the Ross barn is entered. You are still welcome to watch training.

2) Do not walk through other people’s barns. You own one horse that resides in Barn 2 West. It is disrespectful to go through other shed rows without an invitation.

3) Wear your Emerald Racing Club lanyard with your racing license.

4) 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.

5) 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.

6) Be respectful. There are other horses in the Ross barn owned by others.

7) What happens in the barn, stays in the barn!

Licensing Reminder

Please be sure to stop and get your license. We still have approximately 30 people that still need to be licensed. The horse cannot run until everyone has done this!

Emerald Racing Club Blog

If there’s a topic you’d love to see covered on the blog, leave a comment! Anything from types of blinkers, to racehorse food to shoes…we’ll cover it all!

Thank you to all that attended today and I look forward to seeing you at the track!

Happy racing!


Archie to train Sunday before Orientation

Archie will train Sunday, April 10 at 10:45 am. To watch him train, come in the main admission gates, walk straight out to track level to the track apron (where the benches are).

I will be there standing on a bench and will point him out when he goes by. He’ll also be wearing the green and white checkered saddle towel for the Club.

Archie and Brian pose for the camera.

Archie and Brian pose for the camera.

Orientation and Kick-Off Party Details:

Who: You! (and a guest)

What: Emerald Racing Club Orientation, Emerald Ed & Party

When: Sunday, April 10, begins 12 noon

Where: Emerald Room – 4th Floor Emerald Downs (take either elevator from the first floor lobby)


  • 10:45 am – Archie Graham to train on the track
  • 11:30 am – Check-in – We will have racing programs, so no need to purchase one
  • 12 noon – Orientation
  • 1 pm – Emerald Ed – Emerald Downs’ Dir. of Publicity, Vince Bruun, and Jacob “the professor” Pollowitz will be giving a crash course on how to read the form, handicap, and watch a race. The added bonus: they will be using Archie Graham’s last race.
  • 2 pm – Party will transition to the View Room (right off the Emerald Room) with free Clubhouse Seating.
  • 2:15 pm – Live racing starts!
  • 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm – Buffet laid out in Emerald Room
  • The Emerald Room and View Room are reserved for Emerald Racing Club all day so you are free to float in and out as you wish.

No cost for Emerald Racing Club members and guest. If you have additional guests you’d like to bring, they may join you for the party. Additional tickets will be $20 and can be purchased at the door.

Reminder: You must be licensed by Sunday, April 10. You’ll need to show your license in order to receive your Emerald Racing Club Lanyard.

Can’t make it?

Don’t worry, I will post a recap of the Orientation here on the blog for those unable to attend.