05/04/2005 11:00PM

Track offers bonus for large fields


AUBURN, Wash. - Effective with this week's racing, Emerald Downs will offer an innovative bonus for races with large fields.

Emerald will increase the purses for all races with eight or more starters by 10 percent. The idea, effectively a purse increase, was the brainchild of track president Ron Crockett, and it was approved by the board of the Washington Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association on Wednesday. It is intended to encourage large fields.

On Friday, the first day the bonus was to be in effect, seven of the eight races drew eight or more entries. Those races will not be eligible for the 10 percent increase unless eight or more horses actually run.

The bonus was made possible by larger-than-anticipated handle through the first three weeks of the Emerald meeting.

First Derby Day, then Mother's Day

Saturday's simulcast of the 131st Kentucky Derby and Sunday's Mother's Day festivities will highlight one of Emerald's biggest weekends of the year.

Saturday's live card will be headed by a pair of six-furlong allowance races, one for 3-year-olds and the other for older horses. The simulcast of the Kentucky Derby is scheduled for 3:04 p.m.

The track will also stage its annual Truly Fabulous Hat Contest, with a $500 grand prize.

On Sunday the track will offer a special brunch buffet, and moms will be treated to free massages. One lucky mom will win a seven-day cruise.