Sun Downs ready to open the gate on another racing season

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By Jeff Morrow for TCAJOB

Nancy Sorick is usually pretty busy this time of year. But this year that sense of urgency is missing.

Sorick heads up the nonprofit Tri-City Horse Racing Association, which will run the 2016 horseracing meet at Sun Downs at the Benton Franklin Fairgrounds. Racing will take place April 23, 24, 30, May 1, 7 and 8.

Highlights will include major stakes races and a celebration of the Kentucky Derby Saturday, May 7, where fans can place wagers on the sport’s biggest race.

Sorick has a little less stress running the event this year, because the TCHRA signed a three-year contract with Benton County to hold the spring horseracing meet at Sun Downs.

“The past five years, it’s been a year-to-year deal,” said Sorick. “So it’s a yearly hassle no more.”

That’s good for the fans, who have always showed their loyalty by attending the races, Sorick said. And it’s great news for the horse owners and trainers.

“Our supporters are there regardless,” said Sorick. “They’ve supported us for over 30 years. More importantly, the horsemen know we’ll be here. Their lives are patterned from track to track.”

It’s not easy being in the horse racing business. Over the last 30 years, horse racing tracks throughout the Northwest, including those in Spokane, Yakima, Walla Walla, Dayton and Waitsburg have all had to shut down.

And just last year, Les Bois Park in Boise, Idaho closed its doors.

Emerald Downs in Auburn, Portland Meadows in Portland, Ore. and Sun Downs in Kennewick are only remaining tracks in the Pacific Northwest where hooves still fly across the dirt.

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Jeffrey Morrow

Jeffrey Morrow

Jeff Morrow retired from the Tri-City Herald in 2015. Jeff spent 30 years on the Herald’s sports staff, including the last 19 as the sports editor. Although he likes to write, Jeff still finds time to travel, golf and take care of his family’s three dogs. He and his wife of 31 years, Connie, have two adult daughters.

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