Emerald Downs + Horse Racing 101

Pull out the big hats, pour yourself a mint julep, and let’s head to the racetrack! Seattle is lucky enough to have Emerald Downs just a short thirty minute drive from the city in Auburn, WA. It’s a thrilling way to spend a weekend afternoon and affordable (only $7 for entry, $9.50 if you want a reserved seat) as long as you don’t get too crazy with those bets.

Now, we know there is an art form to horse racing. Some say it’s important to visit the horses in the Paddocks before the race to size up the animals. Others use the handy “Parker’s Picks” program, which gives you expert advice on which animal is a good choice. Us? Well, we use the very strategic, mostly successful tactic of picking our horse based on his or her name. A Storm In Paris? Sounds like a winner to us. Maggie’s Special? Totally a sure bet. We once won $230 on a $5 bet by choosing a horse named Life is a Joy. It works. Trust us. (Actually, don’t trust us this isn't very good advice).

If you want to place a bet, you’ll need to let the teller know a few things:

1.       Name the race # you are betting on.

2.       The amount of bet you want to place ($2 is the minimum).

3.       The type of bet you are placing.

4.       The number of the horse (don’t give the horse’s name).

It should sound something like this:

“I would like to bet on race #4, $2 to win on horse #3.”

Now, there are a few different kinds of bets. You can bet your horse will win the race (“win”), come in 2nd place (“place”), or come in 3rd place (“show”). If you want to bet your horse will make it in the top three then you say you want “across the board.” This will cost you a minimum of $6, though, as it is $2 minimum per bet.

If you want to get a little more exotic, you can also bet an Exacta (correctly guessing the first and second place), a Trifecta (correctly guessing the first, second, and third place), and the Supertrifecta (correctly guessing the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place). We like to put money on these exotic bets mostly because they are fun to say, but for beginners, we recommend the fairly straightforward bets. Of course, do what you want. We won’t judge. Just don’t mortgage your house or spend your child’s college fun. Standards, people!

Insider tip: Every so often Emerald Downs will host wiener dog races in between the horse races, and this is a spectacle NOT TO MISS. It’s hilarious and chaotic and very, very cute. Emerald Downs also releases Groupon deals quite frequently if you are into making the day even cheaper. Keep an eye out!