Emerald Downs
Photo by: Reed Palmer Photography

Emerald Downs Photo by: Reed Palmer Photography

Reed Palmer Photography/Emerald Downs

Higher Purses, Handle at Emerald Downs

Average daily handle, average field size, and purses all increased for 2015.

Buoyed by larger fields and increased purses, daily average handle increased 10.7% at the 70-day Emerald Downs meet that concluded Sept. 27.

Average field size also rose, going from 6.28 horses in 2014 to 6.82 in 2015, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems, and the Washington state track reported an on-track horse population of more than 1,000 for the first time in three years.

TJCIS reported average daily purse distribution of $120,937 for this year's meet, compared with $96,403 a year ago.

Last winter Emerald Downs announced a 20% purse increase for lower-level claiming races and also added several incentives to lower costs for horsemen. These enhancements resulted in several first-time Emerald Downs' trainers, with the biggest influx coming from Turf Paradise in Arizona, the track said in a release.

Average total daily handle was $1,262,956, with a high of $2,421,017 for Longacres Mile Day on August 16. According to a release, Emerald Downs' brand also grew substantially, with a 16% increase in selling of its races in 2015.

First-year Emerald Downs president Phil Ziegler credited the successful meet to the track's track founder Ron Crockett, and the continued commitment from the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, who officially acquired the track in March and have enhanced purses the last 12 seasons.

"The success we experienced this season would not have been possible without the support of our track founder Ron Crockett who continues to play a integral role at Emerald Downs, and the Muckleshoot Tribe who own our company and have invested over $13 million in purses since 2004," Ziegler said.

Stryker Phd, who won four stakes races and became the first horse to win the Longacres Mile twice at Emerald Downs, repeated as horse of the meeting.