Playfair Race Course and the Muckleshoot Indian Casino in Auburn reached a three-year agreement this week that gives the Spokane track a second outlet in the vital King County market.
Playfair general manager Dan Hillyard sees it as a safety net. In the future, it could be a lifeline.
The Spokane track hopes to eventually capitalize on the state’s compact with Native American casinos, Hillyard confirmed Friday.
The compact allows Indian casinos to carry races from any track in Washington. Under Washington Horse Racing Commission guidelines that is one, since the commission allows no overlapping seasons.
Playfair officials say the state, and the racing industry, would benefit by allowing casinos to handle more than one Washington state track per day.
There are at least a dozen Native American casinos in the state included in the compact, Hillyard said.
The casino in Auburn recently moved from a temporary tent to a 63,000-square-foot building with a betting parlor that rivals racebooks in Las Vegas and Reno. Director of the casino’s Turf Palace, Phil Ziegler, said the casino is creating new fans for a sport in dire need of them.
“We have regulars (who bet the horses), but we also have blackjack, poker and keno players here who are between games or waiting to get on a table and see that we have racing,” he said. “They bet a couple of races.”
Ziegler said the casino would take “whatever signal (track) is up there.”
The Off-Track - the betting facility at Southcenter - takes Playfair’s signal. Should that change, the agreement with the casino gives the Spokane track assurance of a King County outlet.
No Small Buzz, runner-up in last season’s Spokane Derby, and 1994 Playfair sprint champion Che Meza head the field for Sunday’s 47th running of the Inland Empire Speed Handicap. No Small Buzz, which won a four-horse photo in last year’s Playfair Breeders’ Cup, will carry 123 pounds. Che Meza, which won this race last season, will carry 121. … Veteran jockey Mark Hadley, second with 100 wins in his best Playfair campaign last fall, is back after winding up a summer at Arapahoe Park in Colorado.