Monday, September 22, 2008

Emerald Downs

Saturday, we went to Emerald Downs for a homeschool field trip. We'll be studying horses in our science text soon and I wanted to take the kids to Emerald Downs before the live racing season was over.

One of the cool things about Emerald Downs is that on Fridays and Saturdays they offer a free tour for groups. After the tour, they give all adults a free ticket to the same day's races (children under 17 get in free all the time). The tickets would normally cost $5 per person, making this trip better than free.

After standing out in the rain waiting for the rest of the groups (there were two groups scheduled), we headed over to the winners circle. Our tour guide explained what happened at the end of the each race. A nice lady on a horse allowed everyone to pet her horse while we were there. Then we headed over to the paddock where our tour guide explained what happens there. Finally, we boarded the tram.

Here's Mika and Sammy on the tram. It was quite bumpy. Despite the look on their faces, they liked this part. The tram took us to the vet clinic. The vet explained what happens in each room, including the entire process of performing surgery on a horse. We learned about how they tranquilize a horse before coming to the clinic so they don't get too worked up and how they put to sleep before a procedure. It's quite involved. He explained how the horse is moved from the holding stall to the surgical table to the recovery room. He even showed us some of the tools they use like the different size tracheotomy tubes and laparoscopic instruments. He ended the presentation with a short question and answer time. After the vet clinic, the tram took us around the stables. They can house up to 1,400 horses! We also learned that Emerald Downs has a really good cafe that's open to the public where you can dine on good home-cooking type of food and meet jockeys and owners, a day care for the staff's children, and some living facilities.

After the tram tour, Mika and Sammy volunteered to hand out crayons and coloring packets.

Inside Emerald Downs, we found several things to look at. There was a giant horse-head sculpture and this metal horse sculpture. There was a hall of fame exhibit, a newcomers center (where they explain how the races and betting works), many places to eat (vending machines, concessions, and restaurants). They even have an arcade.

Here we are sitting in our reserved clubhouse seating waiting for the first races to begin. We got there quite early because there is a little more than two hours between the end of the tour and the beginning of the first race. The serious gamblers were in other areas with tables covered with stats and other information for the day's races, both at Emerald Downs and simulcasted races from other locations. Some people really get into horse racing!

This sign gave out all of the next or current races information. We loved the main track conditions..."sloppy". Indeed the track was quite sloppy from the rain. Later, the odds/bets were listed for each horse as people placed their bets. The numbers were constantly changing.

We watched the first race from the clubhouse. Then I took the kids down to the track level so we can see and hear the horses run by on the next race. I forgot to bring my camera downstairs with us so I didn't get photos of the horse...darn. That race started from the finish line so we also go to see them put into their starting gates. Mika wanted number 2 to win because it was the darkest horse (she likes black horses) and number 2 ended up winning. I told her that if we had bet on her horse, we would have won money. Too bad we weren't betting! After the race, we headed over to edge of the winners circle to see the horse brought in and the kids were surprised to see steam rising off his back.

We watched the third race of the day and then headed home. It wasn't the most exciting field trip we've been on but it was still interesting. We're thinking of returning next summer on a nice day so we can sit outside to watch the races and maybe placing a small bet on each race to give the kids a specific horse to root for. I think that would be more exciting for them.

As a follow up, we'll be looking through the program in the coming week and talking about the information given in it.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Deb said...

Sounds like a fun adventure. I was a bit worried w/ the rain so I'm glad it worked out well :)

Anonymous said...

Looks like you had a great time and you even got the dh to crack a grin. LOL!