Sunday, June 16, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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The History Of Horse Racing In Sound Area

Here's a brief look at the history of horse racing in the Puget Sound area:

-- March 3, 1933: Gov. Clarence Martin signs a bill legalizing horse racing in the state.

-- Aug. 3, 1933: Longacres in Renton, founded by Joe Gottstein, opens before a crowd of 11,000.

-- 1943: Longacres closes for the first time. World War II forces a blackout, and the infield is home to an artillery barracks.

-- Jan. 1, 1971: Gottstein dies of cancer at age 79. His son-in-law, Morris J. Alhadeff, succeeds him as president of Longacres.

-- Aug. 27, 1972: Longacres has its first $1 million day, with $1,024,338 wagered by 13,638 fans.

-- Aug. 27, 1978: Longacres has its first $2 million day. Famed jockey Willie Shoemaker returns for the first time in 29 years, winning the $100,000 Longacres Mile as $2,003,482 is wagered.

-- Oct. 1, 1979: Season attendance passes the 1 million mark; the daily handle averages more than $1 million for the first time, with $1,009,552 bet for 110 days.

-- Aug. 23, 1981: The largest crowd in Longacres history (25,031) bets a then-record $2,770,179. The track is fully computerized, installing Autotote betting machines for the 1981 season.

-- 1983: Attendance declines because of competition with other sports and activities, including the state lottery.

-- April 2, 1986: Longacres installs lights and puts on its first night races.

-- June 8, 1988: The first satellite-wagering facility in the state opens in Bellingham. Yakima Meadows also opens as a satellite outlet for Longacres races.

-- Nov. 23, 1988: Morris J. Alhadeff, president of the track since 1971, is named chairman of the board, making way for his two sons. Michael Alhadeff, 43, is elected president, and Ken Alhadeff, 41, is elected executive vice president.

-- Sept. 27, 1990: The Boeing Co. purchases Longacres from the Alhadeff family, announcing plans for an office park.

-- Sept. 21, 1992: The last race is held at Longacres. Fans bet a one-day record $3,399,087.

-- Oct. 1, 1992: Northwest Racing Associates, headed by investor Ron Crockett, agrees to lease a 165-acre site in Auburn from construction contractor Mario Segale for a new racetrack.

-- April 20, 1993: Washington State Racing Commission announces it will award a license to the Auburn group. This decision is challenged four times in court.

-- Sept. 30, 1993: City of Auburn approves track.

-- Dec. 6, 1993: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rules an extensive environmental study will be needed before a permit can be granted to fill 17 acres of wetlands.

-- March 21, 1994: Corps of Engineers rules that of a dozen proposals, only the Auburn site is a legitimate contender for a racetrack.

-- July 20, 1994: An environmental group, called Citizens Alliance to Protect Our Wetlands, sues Auburn, claiming the city did not do enough to protect the environment before approving the track.

-- March 22, 1995: The lawsuit against Auburn is heard in the State Supreme Court after being thrown out in a lower court. Decision expected within four months.

-- April 7, 1995: Corps of Engineers grants permission for Northwest Racing Associates to fill 17 acres of wetlands at the Auburn property. Developers say they will begin construction of the track immediately.

-- June 20, 1996: About 14 months after construction of Emerald Downs began, the new racetrack is scheduled to open.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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