WALLA WALLA — The slow economy apparently hasn’t had an adverse effect on pari-mutuel horse racing in the region.
In fact, there might even be a positive spin-off, according to Yakima’s Shorty Martin, who is in Walla Walla this week pinch hitting for Dick Monahan at the Walla Walla Fairgrounds. Monahan is the Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days Rodeo racing secretary, but as a member of the American Horse Association’s board of directors, he’s out of town all this week on Quarter Horse business.
"I just deal with the Blue Mountain Circuit, so statewide I can’t say," Martin said Wednesday afternoon after completing Friday’s racing card and preparing to begin on Saturday’s races.
"But around here, I know that Kennewick’s (handle) was up about 2.5 percent, Walla Walla’s spring meet was up about 1.75 percent and some of the other tracks were up as well.
"Maybe it’s just the case that local people are participating," Martin said. "Maybe the economy is keeping people at home and they are coming out to the races instead of going on vacation."
If so, locals will get three chances to prove Martin’s theory correct as the ponies will run in Walla Walla Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons. And all signs point to a positive meet, Martin said.
"Everything looks status quo," Martin said.
In other words, there seem to be plenty of horses — some stabled on the grounds, others hauled in daily — to write three days of competitive races, enough jockeys and a favorable weather report.
"I think we’re right where we have been in the past," Martin said. "A lot of the horses don’t stable on the grounds. They’re hauled in from Kennewick, Dayton, Waitsburg, and some others who come up from Oregon and are willing to go back and forth."
Friday’s slate of races will be eight deep, and Martin said he is hopeful of filling 10-race cards both Saturday and Sunday.
"I’ve actually planned it this way," Martin said of the short schedule on Friday. "(Horsemen) in the past tend to enter pretty good on Friday and that has hurt our Saturday and Sunday cards. We tend to have more folks here on Saturday and Sunday, so we like to have the bigger cards when more people are on the grounds."
There weren’t enough horses to run trials for either the Quarter Horse Derby or the Quarter Horse Futurity, Martin said. So there won’t be any designated feature races on Friday.
Saturday’s races, which will be filled Friday morning, will include the Quarter Horse 250 Championship, the All-Breed 660 Championship and the Thoroughbred Speed Handicap at 5 furlongs. The Sunday field, which will be filled Saturday morning, offers both the Derby and the Futurity as well as the Queen’s Derby for Thoroughbreds at a mile and an eighth.
Martin said he wouldn’t take responsibility for the weather since he doesn’t live in the valley, but he’s been told that conditions will be just fine.
"I hear it is supposed to cool down some," Martin said. "Cooler is better. And it’s not supposed to rain."
Post time is 1 p.m. each day. And there is no admission other than the gate pass to get onto the grounds.
FIRST RACE (Thoroughbred Maiden, 3-year-olds and older, 5 furlongs) — 1, Happy Woman, Terrence Birdrattler; 2, Slews Indy, Ashley Zacherle; 3, Rahy Wind, Leonel Camacho-Flores; 4, Turn to Fly, Luis Torres; 5, Chumaree Honey, Freddy Ibarra; 6, Flipphone, Ruben Camacho; 7, Trixie Two, Darlene Braden; 8, Laceys Last Chance, Connie Doll.
SECOND RACE (Quarter Horse Maiden, 3-year-olds and older, 250 yards) — 1, Cowboys First Review, Darlene Braden; 2, Fast N Fabulous, J. Torres; 3, North Fork, Freddy Ibarra; 4, Joy Be Fast, Connie Doll; 5, Mc Flash, Terrence Birdrattler; 6, Razorback, Ty Dangerfield; 7, Chief Chumaree, Ruben Camacho; 8, Satus, Jaime Martinez.
THIRD RACE (Thoroughbred Maiden, 3-year-olds and older, 5 furlongs) — 1, Betheticket, Ruben Camacho; 2, Indys Wild Child, Terrence Birdrattler; 3, Senator D, Darlene Braden; 4, Superior Moon, Ashley Zacherle; 5, Alpine Star, Connie Doll; 6, Windy City Kitty, Leonel Camacho-Flores; 7, Run N Chumaree, Freddy Ibarra; 8, Got the Glo, Luis Torres.
FOURTH RACE (Quarter Horse Allownace, 3-year-olds and older that have not won two races in 2009, 250 yards) — 1, Lookin for Amillion, Darlene Braden; 2, Miss Time X Cash, J. Torres; 3, Iza All Dat N More, Ruben Camacho; 4, Awezoomin, Paula Ennis; 5, Cbr Catch Me Zoomin, Freddy Ibarra.
FIFTH RACE (Quarter Horse Claiming, 3-year-olds and older that have not won two races in 2009, 7 furlongs) — 1, Bay Wilde Total, Leonel Camacho-Flores; 2, Totally Brilliant, Ty Dangerfield; 3, Zoolu Nights, Paula Ennis; 4, Zee Chalupa, Connie Doll; 5, Black Hurricane, Luis Torres.
SIXTH RACE (Quarter Horse Claiming, 3-year-olds and older that have not won two races in 2009) — 1, Black Canyon Bart, Ruben Camacho; 2, Justin K, Leonel Camacho-Flores; 3, Mr. Liberty Bells, Terrence Birdrattler; 4, Billy Stark, Paula Ennis; 5, Derby Day Hope, Freddy Ibarra.
SEVENTH RACE (Quarter Horse Allowance, 3-year-olds and older that have not won two races in lifetime, 250 yards) — 1, Pardon, Freddy Ibarra; 2, Jumpin Bac Splash, Terrence Birdrattler; 3, Fastfractions, Darlene Braden; 4, Pillar, Ruben Camacho; 5, Amen Brother Ben, Luis Torres; 6, Fierce Bookey, Jaime Martinez.
EIGHTH RACE (Thoroughbred Claim, 3-year-olds and older that have not won two races in lifetime, 5 furlongs) — 1, Free Explosion, Freddy Ibarra; 2, Zia Zoom Zoom, Freddy Ibarra; 3, Indy n’ Slew, Terrence Birdrattler; 4, Witchoneachopper, Leonel Camacho-Flores; 5, One Special Starr, J. Torres; 6, Skimmed, Connie Doll; 7, Feelin Smart, Ashley Zacherle; 8, Historic Event, Ruben Camacho; 9, Whatsamillion, Ruben Camacho; 10, Wacona Gold, Darlene Braden.