The Condition Book and Yodeler’s First Race

You may have heard the term “condition book” before. The mysterious book referenced that holds the secrets to racehorse training. Not quite.

It is called a condition book because it contains the “conditions” of the races available to enter. For example, conditions would refer to the distance, claiming price, and other specifics such as age and sex that limit a race to a certain group of horses.

The condition book is produced by the racing office and in simple terms is a list of the upcoming races available for horses to enter. You can see the condition book here. The racing office writes the races based on the horse population currently on the grounds.

The condition book is crucial to a trainer because it gives them a race for the horse to point towards. For Emerald Downs, we typically have seven condition books printed throughout the season and they cover about nine days (three weekends) of racing at a time. The most recent edition linked to above is for May 24 – June 6.

According to Sharon, there is a race for Yodeler on Sunday, June 1. If we scroll through to Sunday, June 1 we’ll see that entries will close on Thursday, May 29. That means that as owners, we’ll know if Yodeler was entered and if he made it into the race.

Three things will keep a horse from running in a race that you’ve entered him for other than health and soundness:

-The horse is ineligible – i.e. Race for maidens, and your horse has a win. Mistakes at entry time like this are rarely made, but it can happen.

-There aren’t enough entries to make your race “go”. If a race only has three or four horses in it at close of entries, then there aren’t enough horses to make a betting race. The racing office has to take the races that fill with enough horses and then create the best betting card for the public.

-There are too many entries, this doesn’t happen very often, but if there are too many entries, your horse might be excluded.

Let’s look at the races and see where Yodeler fits in:

Race 1 – Maiden Claiming – Yodeler isn’t a “maiden” (a horse that has never won a race), not eligible

Race 2 – WA Maiden Claiming – This is restricted to WA Bred maidens. Yodeler is not a WA Bred nor a maiden.

Race 3 – Maiden Special Weight for two-year-olds – Yodeler isn’t a two-year-old maiden, not eligible.

Race 4 – Maiden Special Weight for three-year olds and up – Yodeler isn’t a maiden, not eligible.

Race 5 – Quarterhorse maiden – Yodeler is a Thoroughbred, not eligible.

Race 6 – Quarterhorse allowance – Yodeler is a Thoroughbred, not eligible.

Race 7 – Claiming Race for $5,000 going six furlongs – These are Yodeler’s conditions! He is eligible to enter in this race.

Race 8 – Claiming Race for $32,000 – This is above his competition level.

Race 9 – Seattle Handicap – This is our Stakes race and best class of horses. Yodeler is “outclassed” by these horses.

Race 10 – Claiming Race for $12,500 going a mile, fillies and mares – Again, too rich for Yodeler, he’s a boy, and we want to sprint him primarily. Not eligible.

Race 11 – Claiming Race for $10,000, fillies and mares – too rich for Yodeler and he is ineligible because he’s a boy.

Race 12 – Claiming for $10,000 restricted to three-year-olds – Yodeler is too old at age six. Ineligible.

Race 13 – Claiming for $2,500, fillies and mares – Too cheap and a race for girls, and Yodeler is ineligible.

Race 14 – Claiming for $12,500, for three-year-olds and up that have never won two races – Too rich, and Yodeler has won more than two races, so not eligible.

Race 15 – Claiming for $3,500, for three-year-olds and up that haven’t won a race since Oct. 1, 2013 – Yodeler won a race on March 15, making him ineligible.

Race 16 – Claiming for $2,500, for three-year-olds and up which have never won three races – Too cheap, and Yodeler has won more than three races.


Let’s look closer at Race 7:


The purse is the amount he will be racing for – $7,200. In the back of the physical condition book (not on the PDF download) there is a chart called 2014 Division of Purses. According to the chart, the winner takes home 55% with the remainder distributed 2nd – 5th and a $125 “unplaced” fee for any horses that don’t finish in the top five.

He is older than three so he starts out carrying 124 lbs. However, he has not won a race since April 1 (his last win was March 15, Dancing Yodeler – Past Performance) so per the conditions, we can subtract 2 lbs.

The race is a Claiming Race – Claiming Price is $5,000, we could enter him for $4,000 in which case we’d be “allowed” three more lbs but we aren’t going to do that so he’ll be entered for the race and will carry 122 lbs.

Sharon will continue to monitor his health, soundness and mental state but is pointing him towards this race as of now.


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 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!


Emerald Racing Club attracts 122 in first year

The Emerald Racing Club is a new endeavor and while planning out the program we had set a goal number of 50 members in it’s first year.

I’m thrilled to report that we have 122 members in our first year pending late mail!

As mentioned, we plan to share the financials with you on a monthly basis and explain the expenses. Here is the budget based on the 122 members and claiming two horses (one for $8,000 and one for $5,000).

Emerald Racing Club Budget

As the actual expenses come in, we will explain each one. The budget you see here is assuming a couple things:

1) The horse won’t start racing until May. This is because Golden Gate racetrack has “jail rules.” Jail rules are in place at racetracks to keep horses from leaving the grounds and depleting their horse population. The rules at Golden Gate are that any horse claimed may not race at another track for 45 days OR the horse must make one start after being claimed at Golden Gate and then is free to run elsewhere. If we purchase the horse privately, we can avoid the jail time.

2) Our revenue is conservative assuming only one start per horse per month beginning in May. The revenue counts a $125 starter fee that the horse earns even if it finishes in last place.

3) Our expenses regarding vet and farrier are estimated high.

4) Revenue from the sale of the horses at the end of the season has not been budgeted in order to build a conservative budget.

With two horses, the fee going to the Washington Horse Racing Commission goes up from $108 ($83 license fee, $10 fingerprint, $15 L&I) to $123 to account for an additional $15 per person payment for L&I on the second horse.

All of the money you have invested as an owner ($500) goes directly into the Emerald Racing Club and the expenses involved with your ownership.

Welcome to the Club and I look forward to announcing our racehorse very soon!


Sophia McKee

Dir. of Marketing

Emerald Downs