The horses were on the Emerald Downs track Wednesday as training began for the 81-day meeting that begins Friday, April 13.
Snow On the River, with trainer Monique Snowden up, was the first horse on the track shortly after 8:30 a.m. The 6-year-old Washington-bred gelding had his chestnut coat slicked by rainfall that yielded to
intermittent sun breaks throughout the morning. In other words, typical February weather at Emerald Downs.
Director of Racing Bret Anderson said 153 horses were on the grounds for the first day back at the track, and added horses will be arriving daily from nearby farms and training centers, and from racetracks in California and Arizona. Hopefully, the grand total will be around 1,000 horses in time for the track’s 17th opening night in April
Doris Harwood, the track’s all-time leading stakes-winning trainer, was back at work, ponying several runners to the track for what she calls extended trotting. “For horses that have been away from the track, it helps build up their bone density,” she said.
Two-time Emerald Downs Horse of the Meeting Noosa Beach made an early appearance for Harwood and, as usual, was all business. “He’s excited and happy to be back to work,” Harwood said.
Noosa Beach, the track’s all-time leader with 11 stakes wins including the 2010 Longacres Mile, is fully recovered from the bruised foot that curtailed his campaign last September, and will begin his 6-year-old season with a 14-for-21 lifetime mark and earnings of $520,722.
Music for my Soul, a 2-year-old full brother to Noosa Beach (By Harbor the Gold-Julia Rose), also was on the track Wednesday for Harwood.
Other familiar faces for the beginning of training were jockeys Gallyn Mitchell and Jennifer Whitaker, and trainers Howard Belvoir, Sharon Ross, Margo Lloyd, Terry Gillihan, Tom Wenzel, Chris Stenslie and Richard and Blaine Wright.