Casino Tribe, Emerald Downs Announce Deal

The Muckleshoot Indian tribe of Washington will invest $1.6 million in purses and a vocational training program at Emerald Downs through 2005 in a partnership agreement announced by the track Aug. 12.

Emerald Downs said the agreement with the casino operating tribe will result in a 15% increase in average daily purses paid when it goes into effect Aug. 19.

"This is probably the most significant announcement we've made since we said we were going to build Emerald Downs," said track president Ron Crockett in a statement. "This increase provides a solid foundation for racing's long term existence and success in Washington.

"We're delighted to count the Muckleshoot tribe as partners in creating a thriving racing industry. This arrangement will without question greatly enhance the benefits of owning, breeding, and racing Thoroughbreds in Washington."

The new daily average of $104,000 in purses for the remainder of 2004 and a projected $106,000 in 2005 represent the highest in Emerald Downs' eight years of operations.

In return for their investment the Muckleshoot tribe will gain a cross-marketing partnership including the title sponsorship of the Washington Cup Classic on Washington Cup Day Sept. 19.

Tribal chairman John Daniels Jr. noted that the groom school will help tribal members begin careers in racing. He said the joint marketing agreement will help its casino tap "a lucrative and previously unavailable customer base" as it contributes to the success of racing in the state.

"A healthy racing industry contributes over $330 million annually to the state economy, is responsible for thousands of jobs, and preserves green space for the breeding, raising and training of horses amid a climate of expansive development," Daniels said. "There are many direct and indirect benefits to our tribe by making sure racing thrives."

Emerald Downs also announced plans to extend the 2005 race meeting to 101 race days, running four days a week from mid-April until mid-October. The track said the investment in purses from the Muckleshoot tribe and expected gains from advance deposit wagering make the expansion possible.