Sun Downs racetrack preps for April 20 opening

By Jeff Morrow, Herald sports editorApril 12, 2013 

Nancy Sorick says she keeps getting people asking her if there will be horse races this spring at Sun Downs race track in Kennewick.

“People are still confused,” she said. “I think when it was announced, people were concentrating on Gonzaga basketball and the Tri-City Americans.”

Sorick, who is a member of the Tri-City Horse Racing Association, wants people to know that her group is rolling along, getting ready for the first day of racing on April 20.

“Things are falling into place,” she said. “The insurance is there, and we’ve got all of our personnel in place.”

The TCHRA and the Benton County Fair Board, which leases the land from Benton County, agreed on a deal last month for this year’s races to be run.

The contract has the TCHRA taking over the grounds on April 15 and leaving by May 10.

There will be six dates of racing: April 20, 21, 27, 28, May 4 and 5.

Some big races are scheduled, including the Pot O’Gold Futurity, and fans will be able to wager on the Kentucky Derby, which is May 4.

Sorick said she expects the backside stables to be 75 percent filled with horses during the meet.

“Some trainers are bringing their horses up from Hermiston for the day and then truck them back down,” she said. “But the horses are starting to come in. One guy from Portland was bringing 16 horses in.”

The bridge that leads from the grandstand over the track and to the infield grandstands for the rodeo has been removed, and even the weather has cooperated.

“That rain last week was just beautiful for the track,” she said.

There are just some minor things left to do.

“The toteboard is down in Grants Pass,” she said. “We’re getting it. But everything should be ready to go come opening day.”

Pro baseball check
With baseball season opening last week, it’s time to check out where all of our local guys are beginning their seasons.

Walla Walla High graduate Eric O’Flaherty is part of the Atlanta Braves’ bullpen, coming in often as a situational lefty. Moses Lake High School grad Ryan Doumit opens the season again with the Minnesota Twins at catcher and DH.

Center fielder Nyjer Morgan, who played at Walla Walla Community College, opened the season on a rehab assignment for the Brewers at Triple-A Nashville.

Former Pasco standout and major leaguer Jeremy Bonderman opened the season with the Tacoma Rainiers, the Mariners’ Triple-A Pacific Coast League team.

Richland High grad Travis Buck is playing left field for the Padres’s Triple-A team in Tucson. Buck’s teammate at Tucson is pitcher Jorge Reyes, who prepped at Warden High School. … Former CBC pitcher Steve Ames is with the Dodgers’ Triple-A team in Albuquerque. He is currently on the disabled list.

Southridge High grad Travis Mattair is playing third base for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos — what a great mascot — in the Double-A Southern League. Pensacola is a Cincinnati Reds’ farm club.

Mattair’s former Southridge teammate, shortstop Shawn O’Malley, opens the season back at Montgomery, Ala., where the Rays’ Double-A Southern League team is. O’Malley has spent parts of three previous seasons in Montgomery.

Former CBC standout Darrell Ceciliani opens the season at Double-A Binghamton, where he plays center field for the Mets’ farm club.

Walla Walla CC standout Drew Heid is at Arkansas in the Double-A Texas League, playing left field for the Angels’ farm club.

Finally, Hanford High grad Jason Repko will start the season with the independent Atlantic League York Revolution. The outfielder has played in the majors with the Dodgers and Red Sox.

Early warning
The Rage in the Sage Duathlon, the first of the multi-sport series run by the Three Rivers Roadrunners Club, is April 20 in Benton City. … The Fiasco in Pasco Duathlon will follow on May 11. … Bloomsday is the first Sunday in May (the 5th). … The Washington State University baseball team is set for a three-game Pac-12 Conference series with the University of Washington at Gesa Stadium in Pasco on May 17-19. For good measure, the University of Portland plays the Cougars on May 20 at Gesa in a nonconference game.

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