Orientation Recap

Thank you to all that were able to attend Orientation and the races last Sunday. We all had a great time and covered a lot of material.

We’ll try to cover the main points of orientation again here for those of you that weren’t able to attend and a reminder for those that were there.


The morning started with watching training on the track apron (the area where the benches are located in front of the Grandstand). Yodeler trotted straight out on the track past the grandstand to about the 7/8ths pole, then gallop energetically a little over a mile back to the 5/8ths pole. He then pulled up and trotted back clockwise around the track back in front of the Grandstand again.


Yodeler gallops over the Emerald Downs surface for the first time. Photo by Emerald Racing Club member Wayne Nagai.

Yodeler gallops over the Emerald Downs surface for the first time. Photo by Emerald Racing Club member Wayne Nagai.

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.


After Yodeler galloped the tram went back to the vet clinic for a quick tour before returning to drop Club members off for orientation in the Emerald Room at noon.


We covered three main topics with three speakers. Hank from Backstretch Security went over the Backstretch Rules. Rosy covered Backstretch Safety. And I covered Training and Activities schedule.

Three topics:

1) Backstretch Rules – The Backstretch is the restricted area limited only to licensed individuals. You will be asked to display your racing license at the security gate when entering. Owners may park in the LUV lot located immediately to the left of the main security entrance. However, you assume all risk and liability for parking on the grounds. Should a horse get loose and damage you OR your car, you are responsible for any damages. Be alert and we recommend parking outside the backstretch gates either by the public parking near the QuarterChute Cafe or in the Preferred Parking lots.

There is no driving in the backstretch during training hours.

2) Barn Safety – This was covered by Rosy and her speech is Backstretch Safety. It truly comes down to having “horse sense”! Horses can be very reactive and it is your responsibility to look out for YOU! Don’t stick your fingers in their mouth, approach quietly and respectfully, and keep your eyes and ears open at all times. Please read Rosy’s speech as she covered a lot of good points on how to act around horses.

3) Activities and Training – Determinations on what is best for Yodeler’s training happens in the morning when Sharon arrives at the barn and goes over him. Because of this, training schedules are always subject to change and while we can plan for something, we may have to adjust our plans based on the horse or the weather.

Great example was we had planned a training morning for the group on Saturday, April 19. About mid week Sharon felt Yodeler was ready for a workout and would go Sunday if the weather was good. We adjusted to Sunday (posted details to the blog), and then the rain came down in buckets Saturday afternoon cancelling Sunday’s workout. Subsequent update to the blog was posted this morning about 7:30 am. However, Yodeler still jogged and then visited the paddock this morning so Club members could see him.


Tentative schedule for Emerald Racing Club watching Yodeler train:

Sunday, April 27 (Rosy hosting): time and exercise TBD

Saturday, May 3 (Rosy & Sophia hosting): time and exercise TBD.  This is KY Derby day so stay for the races!

Sunday, May 11 (Rosy hosting): time and exercise TBD.


If you would like to visit Yodeler in the barn please email emeraldracingclub@gmail.com with the date and time you’d like to visit at least one day prior to your visit. We ask that you email (not call) for the quickest response.

We will then check with Sharon Ross to make sure the time will work and then confirm the time back with you. Training hours are 6 am – 11:30 am. The track is closed for training on Tuesdays. If Sharon knows when you are coming, she can plan to send out Yodeler to train at a time you’ll be able to watch.

The barn is not open to visitors after 1 pm. The afternoon is the quiet rest time for both horses and grooms. Please respect these restrictions and do not plan your visit after 1 pm.

The exception is visiting during the afternoon on race days provided you request it ahead of time and receive approval.

We are monitoring the email constantly but our “weekend” is Mondays/Tuesdays so we may not respond quite as promptly on those days.

In case of emergency, you may reach me (Sophia McKee) on my personal cell phone: 253-508-9441.

Barn Rules:

1) No visits after 1 pm (except pre-approved visit on race days). Request your visit at least one day ahead of time.

2) Do not walk through other people’s barns.

3) Wear your green 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.

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 19 other horses in the Ross barn owned by others.

7) DO NOT feed Yodeler any treats. Sharon has a bag of carrots just for him that you may feed him.

Have fun! Take a picture!

Yodeler with ERC member Joy Carlson.

Yodeler with ERC member Joy Carlson.


Parking: Your owner pass gains you access to the “Preferred Parking” lots.

Admission and Seating: Your license and Horsemen’s passes are good for admission. Your friends may use your Horsemen’s passes to accompany you.

Reserved Grandstand Section 15 is available every race day (except July 3) for FREE seating for licensed horsemen. Please just show your license to the usher and you and your guests may sit in that section.

Training: You are always welcome to watch training from the track apron and Quarterchute Cafe (track kitchen). If you just plan to attend to watch the horses gallop and have breakfast, you do not need to let us know. However, if you’d like to go back to visit the barn let us know per the instructions above. The best way to watch training is to park at the Quarterchute Cafe, enter there and then walk up the outside of the track to view the workouts. The main Grandstand entrance is not always open.


I apologize for the delay in getting this post up for those that were unable to attend. Sadly, I had to attend a funeral out of state and had limited internet access.

However, I think this brings everyone up to speed. We are still looking to claim a second horse and have a couple prospects worth exploring!


Racehorse ownership – first steps

Owning a Thoroughbred can seem daunting and intimidating. But you actually did it! You filled out a registration form and paid $500. Now what?

Well, first we’ll need somebody to train our horse. And lucky for Emerald Racing Club members we’ve already done that part, but we should explain why we chose Larry and Sharon Ross as our trainer.

Take a quick glance at the official program and you see many trainers listed: old ones, young ones, trainers’ with strings of 50 or more horses, others with only one or two. In fact, the current condition book lists nearly 80 trainers at Emerald Downs. So how do we find one that is right for our horse? We did it the old school way, putting pen to paper and listing our requirements:

  1. The trainer, whoever he/she was to be, must have a strong reputation for exceptional horse care.
  2. The trainer must be willing to work with an ownership Club that may number 50 to 100 people.
  3. The trainer must communicate well with the Emerald Downs’ media team and Emerald Racing Club race manager.
  4. And finally, the trainer must have a history of success!

Simply, Larry and Sharon Ross love the horses in their care. We have observed it first hand for several years, and we’ve spoken to several owners who reiterate this point, providing glowing recommendations for the Ross’ superior horse care. We have also watched and admired as their horses arrive to the paddock for races—well groomed, shiny and healthy, the picture of good health. We’ve even witnessed little things like Sharon Ross escorting baby ducks across Emerald Downs drive, making sure they crossed the road safely (Youtube video). That’s the type of person that will provide our racehorse with the best care and a trainer that we are proud to have working for us.

Larry and Sharon Ross begin the new Emerald Downs season with a moderate sized stable of about two dozen horses (1/2 in CA, 1/2 in WA). The smaller stable means the Ross’ can accommodate our Emerald Racing Club members while not disrupting the daily barn routine.

To that end, trainers can have different policies regarding barn visits. Larry and Sharon Ross have always had an “open-barn” policy, as long as the horse come first. That means owners are welcome to visit provided they neither disrupt the barn routine nor pose a safety hazard to horses or themselves. (We’ll cover safety and barn etiquette at the Emerald Racing Club orientation on April 13, and post a blog for those unable to attend).

And because we will provide weekly blogs by our media team would visit for regular updates, this was an important element to have an open line of communication.

About that history of success, a quick glance at the Emerald Downs Media Guide highlights the trainers’ tremendous success and achievements:

· Trained 1985 Longacres Mile winner Chum Salmon
· Trained 2013 WA Hall of Fame Inductee Military Hawk (stakes-placed an amazing 37 times)
· Sharon Ross ranks #8 all-time both Emerald Downs wins (337) and stakes wins (23). Combined Sharon and Larry have won 521 races and 36 stakes at Emerald Downs (note that in past history horses have run in Sharon Ross’ name as trainer or Larry Ross, or both).
· Sharon trained Ema Bovary, the 2003 Top Sprinter at Emerald Downs
· Larry Ross was the leading trainer in Emerald Downs’ inaugural season of 1996
· Larry & Sharon Ross are three-time finalists (2010, 2011, 2013) for WA Hall of Fame

Remember, though, the most important thing when selecting a trainer is to find one that is right for you. Interview candidate, see if you agree with their training philosophies and strategies, and do your research! The Emerald Downs Media Guide is available in the Gift Shop for trainer bios and they are also posted on http://www.emeralddowns.com. Once you have your trainer, you can start shopping for your horse!

Now that we have our trainer, horse shopping is the next stage that of the process. Larry and Sharon Ross are currently looking for a horse on behalf of the Emerald Downs Racing Club, and we will post the exciting news here as soon as we have acquired him or her!

Reminder: Emerald Racing Club registration closes April 1. As of today there are 73 confirmed members in the Club.