Sports

Emerald Racing Club allows 128 people to be Thoroughbred owners

The Emerald Racing Club
The Emerald Racing Club's first horse, Dancing Yodeler (No. 2) will begin racing at Emerald Downs on June 19.
— image credit: Photo courtesy Vassar Photography

For most people, actually owning a Thoroughbred racing horse is as much of a long shot as a donkey winning the Triple Crown.

This season, however, the dream of being a Thoroughbred owner comes true for 128 people, courtesy of Emerald Downs' Emerald Racing Club.

For a mere $500 buy-in, members get an insider's look at what it is like to actually own and race a Thoroughbred during the Emerald Downs' 2014 meet.

"We're modeling the program after a successful program at Canterbury Park (in Minnesota)," said Sophia McKee, Emerald Downs' director of marketing. "It's a low-risk, low-cost introduction to horse racing. It's designed to be educational so if you've maybe contemplated race horse ownership in the past, but didn't have the knowledge of how to go about it, this can be your intro. Through the whole process, we walk you through it."

Initially, McKee (pictured left) said they were hoping to attract at least 50 co-owners.

"That is what we budgeted for," she said, "but we drew 128 owners. After we got 50, we thought maybe 75, but we never thought we'd get to 100. We were blown away by 128."

Emerald Racing Club members get an official owner license issued by the Washington Horse Racing Commission (after a criminal background check), free admission for the season, an owner parking pass, access to the restricted backstretch area where the horses train, paddock access on race day and guest passes to show off your horse to friends.

"It should be looked at as a hobby, like owning a country club membership and golfing," McKee said. "It should bring joy and happiness to you and your family and your friends. And it's an ego thing. It would be the greatest thing to be standing in the winning circle with 128 owners."

Because of the high number of members the Emerald Racing Club will purchase two horses for the season, the first of which – a 6-year-old gelding called Dancing Yodeler – was claimed last week at Golden Gate Park for $3,200

Larry and Sharon Ross will train the horse. Rosalia Noronha-DiPietro will act as race manager.

"The first and foremost reason (we picked the Rosses) is their reputation for the care and treatment of their horses," McKee said. "Their horses are always happy and healthy."

Dancing Yodeler will be eligible to race at Emerald Downs on May 19.

"That's good, it gives it the time to rest up and get acclimated to Washington," McKee said.

After the season the club will disband with the horses sold off, if they are not claimed during the meet.

"We've tried to make it very clear that the possibility for anyone making money off the horses is very slim," McKee said. "That being said, all the monies collected from the (entry fees) goes into the club and any money left over goes to the club members. They can receive back up to their $500. Anything past that they can choose to donate it to several charities."

Donna Edwards said she's always dreamed of being a Thoroughbred owner.

"I've always loved being at the track, and I've owned and shown horses before in the past," she said. "I kind of stumbled upon this on the website, but I've never dreamed of being able to afford to own one myself."

Edwards is especially excited to take advantage of the all-access privileges that come with ownership.

"When I go to the track I don't want to go to the front side and bet. I want to go to the back side," she said. "That is where all the action happens."

Although registration for this season's Emerald Racing Club is closed, the club's blog is at www.emeraldracingclub.com.

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