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Outbound - Take me out to the...horse races
Outbound - Take me out to the...horse races
Emerald Downs makes for an entertaining, out of city excursion

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

I lost ten bucks, but I scored an afternoon of fun with my friends at Emerald Downs. The horse racing track, a thirty-minute jaunt from downtown Seattle, is an affordable and efficient getaway from the city's hustle and bustle without having to request time off from work. It's a terrific spot to spend an afternoon with members of your family or social circle. You don't have to be a horseracing expert to take in the excitement, just be in the mood for an adventure. People from all walks of life flock to Emerald Downs, rated one of the West Coast's premiere tracks. Race days are Thursday through Sunday until September 30. Visit www.emdowns.com for details. Emerald Downs is a clean, modern facility that offers top notch live races and simulcast events from around the country on multiple TV screens throughout.

Round up some friends, dash to the gas station, and head to Emerald Downs for a uniquely entertaining, out of town excursion. Here's what you need to know before going.

JOURNEY
The simplest route from Seattle to Emerald Downs, located in Auburn close to the Super Mall, is to take Rainier Avenue South to Renton, which eventually turns into Highway 167. From there, signs will point you in the right direction. A longer route is going from I-5 to 405 to 167.

ADMISSION
Five dollars admits you to the lower levels of Emerald Downs with mostly bleacher seating on a first come-first serve basis. Upgrading to a boxed seat on the Grandstand or Clubhouse levels costs anywhere from $2.50 to $10, depending on availability on the day you attend. Wheelchair access is available on all levels.

PARKING
General lot parking is free, and mini-shuttles will transport you to and from the entrance gates. Preferred parking, within walking distance of the entrance gates, costs $5. Valet service is provided for just $10.

FOOD / DRINKS
Snack bar-style munchies and cocktail service are available on the lower levels. Lines are often long, so don't arrive starving. For a sit-down experience and better food selection, try the Rainier Restaurant. Reservations can be made up to two weeks in advance by calling (253) 288-7711 or by visiting www.emdowns.com. Otherwise, seating is available on a first come-first serve basis.

AMENITIES
Complimentary stable tours are offered every Saturday morning on a per-reservation basis. Call (253) 288-7711 to have your name added to the list. The Gift Horse shop has everything from trinkets to all-season apparel for those wanting to take the Emerald Downs experience back home with them. Group accommodations (think: birthdays and co-worker socials) are available on the upper level in suites for parties of 15 or more - call the number above for information.

BETTING
Horse race wagering is complicated and requires specific lingo, like "exacta" and "trifecta". I still don't understand the betting system, even though it was explained to me repeatedly. What I can tell you is that bets can be placed for as low as $2. The easiest bet to make is a two-dollar wager on a particular horse to "win" or "show", meaning you want your chosen horse to win the race or finish in first, second or third place. I actually won a few races by placing a "show" wager, so my horses didn't win but came in second or third place. Some folks wager with the intent on winning serious cash, others do it just for fun. Whichever you prefer, do it in moderation. Bets can be made up to the second before posting time, when horses are lined up at the starting gate.

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