I had never been to Emerald Downs. After talking with several friends and acquaintances in downtown clubs and restaurants, I suspect this isn’t unusual; in fact, though the people I asked aren’t a random, so-called “scientific” sample, I suspect the vast majority of Enumclaw residents have never been there.
If that’s true of you, let me strongly suggest you do so; first, because novel experiences, if they aren’t immoral or gross, are always worthwhile and, second, because you’ll thoroughly enjoy the entire delightful affair. Unfortunately, this racing season is coming to a close, so it may be too late for you to go this year.
Anyway, on the day I attended, the temperature was approaching 80 degrees and the mountain loomed over the valley with its usual snow-capped grandeur. Surrounded by green fields and away from the freeways and suburban congestion, the setting is really quite beautiful. The place was busy, but didn’t feel the least bit crowded because, after all, you’re outside in the fresh air. (Some people spent much of the evening in a comfortable lounge watching the races on closed-circuit TV, which seems like a terrible waste.)
Emerald Downs is a family affair, make no mistake about that. While parents enjoy an alcoholic beverage of one type or another, a large number of young children are running hither and yon, a welcomed and charming part of the whole evening.
Music was supplied by the China Davis band, which somehow reminds me of the early work of U2 and which appears poised to break out of the confines of Greater Seattle to whirl about in its 15 minutes of national fame. (Check out its latest album, “Arctic Days” on Facebook.) I found myself swaying and twirling with a 7-year-old who genuinely felt the music and who, given her age, had a couple of surprisingly cool dance moves.
Then there are the actual races. My God, the horses are magnificent beasts! Long-legged, muscular, lean and quick, and swift as the wind, they come thundering down the home stretch and cross the finish line in such a flurry of color and speed they literally take your breath away.
One lady bet on a horse that finished fourth and, even though she didn’t win anything, this didn’t bother her. “Out of a field of 10 it came in fourth,” she explained, quite proud and happy. “My horse did really good!”
Did anyone in my party win anything? Yeah, I think so. Someone collected $9 on a $5 bet. Of course, by Muckleshoot Casino standards, that’s a mere pittance. You see, contrary to what you may have thought, betting and winning isn’t the main reason people go to Emerald Downs.