Playfair Race Course will attract enough quality horses to run a competitive meet, the Spokane track’s director of racing said Wednesday.
“From the applications we’ve had for stalls, from our calls and contacts with horsemen, the outlook is good,” Playfair director of racing Ted Martin said. “I’m not concerned about the horse population.”
Playfair’s 50-day season starts Wednesday night, Sept. 6.
A shortage of thoroughbred stock has forced tracks nationwide to shorten some events to five and sixhorses fields. When Playfair’s season was cut by two months last December, some horsemen feared that a curtailed season late in the year might not be attractive to horse owners and trainers.
Martin said interest is encouraging.
More than 400 horses are on the grounds now. More are expected as the Emerald race meet at Yakima Meadows winds down.
Playfair remains closed to training today as work to make the racing surface ready for a fall season concludes. Training will resume Friday. The season is scheduled to close later that ever, on Nov. 27.
All 50 days will be carried at offtrack outlets statewide.
Playfair will operate four days a week. Through the early season, there will be racing on Wednesday and Friday nights and on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
The track drops Wednesdays and switches to 3 p.m. starts on Mondays and Fridays, starting on Friday, Oct. 13. There also will be Monday racing on the Columbus Day holiday, Oct. 9. Weekend programs begin at 1:30.
The highlight is the Oct. 28 Breeders’ Cup. Seven national championship races from Belmont Park start at 8:55 a.m. PST, followed by six Playfair races, including the $25,000 Juvenile Hers for 2-year-old fillies.
Two-year-olds will run for the richest purses in Spokane. The two divisions of the All-West Futurity are $35,000 races. The All-West for 2-year-old colts and geldings is Sunday, Oct. 15. The All-West for 2-year-old fillies is Oct. 14.
The highlight for older horses is the Playfair Mile on Oct. 21.
Among the jockeys expected for opening night are Jason Eads, Darrell Brinkerhoff and Lane Rennaker, all of whom finished among last year’s top seven. Mark Hadley, last year’s runner-up with 100 wins, will return after the meeting at Arapahoe Park, near Denver. Arapahoe closes on Labor Day.
Inland Northwest horsemen are represented at Playfair by the Organization for the Preservation of Horse Racing in the Northwest, after breaking off from the Washington Division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, Playfair publicist Jim Price said.