Optimism As We Begin a New Year

We admit it. We’re optimists at Grants Pass Downs. While the world seems positively giddy to view 2020 in the rearview mirror, we think the horseracing world has a few reasons to celebrate the roller coaster ride we’ve been on. Rather than caving to the crisis at hand, we pushed the sport forward with creativity, tenacity, and bold innovation. Here are a few highlights that may surprise you:

  • The economic indicators for the sport have remained robust. According to Equibase, per race wagers trended up in 2020, despite the Covid pandemic. Total wagers held steady, year over year, at $11 billion. Grants Pass Downs had its biggest handle ever, including a record-shattering $868,632 on closing day.
  • Horse racing saw an increase in live television coverage. Fox Sports, TVG, and NBCSports all made a major commitment to carrying KentuckyDerby and Breeder’s Cup prep races, along with graded stakes and of course, the big events we all look forward to.
  • Here at home, Grants Pass Downs hosted the largest jockey colony in our history, including the largest contingent of regular female riders in the country. We are proud to have gained a reputation as a track where future stars of the sport get their start.
  • Despite an upside-down year for the Triple Crown races and empty grandstands across the world, fans were excited to cheer Authentic’sDerby and Breeder’s Cup Classicvictories, Swiss Skydiver’s Preakness win (just a few ticks off Secretariat’s record, no less,) and Monomoy Girl’s comeback. The Eclipse Awards are upon us and we can’t wait to find out who will be honored for outstanding performances in 2020.
  • Triple Crown winner American Pharoah’s progeny have hit the ground running. His first crop has exceeded the expectation of many, proving their natural ability both on the grass and dirt worldwide. The story of American Pharoahcontinues for the fans who were re-energized by his tremendous career.
  • Horse racing fans have proven to be more engaged than ever, regardless of the “fans” policy at major racetracks. Grants Pass Downs proud to have been one of the only racetracks in the country to host fans, albeit on a limited basis on live race days. Fans were also able to stay connected via mobile apps, podcasts, at OTB’s and with24/7 live streams.
  • We have created an industry-wide community on social media that is thriving! Be it on forums, Twitter, or Facebook, our fans are engaging with us like never before.
  • The pandemic has been the impetus for many racetracks to take stock, reflecting on how we may move forward in a world that looks very different than it did a year ago. Grants Pass Downs remains committed to leading the nation with a unique, up-close fan experience and customer service that goes above and beyond expectation. We’re excited to reveal our new plans for race day entertainment, facility upgrades, and promotions. Stay tuned!

8 Facts You May Not Know About Horse Racing in Oregon

8 Facts You May Not Know About Horse Racing in Oregon

  • Horse racing’s roots in Oregon go back to 1891 when the sport became central to the Tillamook Fair.
  • Pari-mutuel wagering was legalized in Oregon in 1933. Throughout the years, fair racing has taken place in Salem, Gresham, Burns, Grants Pass, Klamath, Prineville, and Union.
  • Portland Meadows, which opened on September 14, 1946, was allegedly the first racetrack in the nation to premiere night racing under stadium lights.
  • In 1940, Oregon-bred Midland, raced by the legendary Seabiscuit team, finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby, the highest placed Oregon-bred to compete in the Run for the Roses
  • -During the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Grants Pass Downs was the only west coast racetrack to welcome limited spectators (albeit socially distanced!) on race days.
  • It is estimated that Oregon’s horse racing industry contributes more than $200 million in output to Oregon’s economy.
  • Jockey Gary Stevens came to notoriety as a young jockey when he won the riding title at portland Meadows in 1981 and 1982.
  • Hometown legend, Don Jackson’s racehorse, Flying Lark, led the USA in wins for two years in the 1980s. Jackson’s undying commitment to cultivating a legacy of racing in Southern Oregon created the foundation for the present and future success of Grants Pass Downs.

Ten Reasons Why We Love Horse Racing

  • Horse racing is accessible to all, young and old, from every background, year-round. Most tracks are very family-friendly, offering a variety of events and entertainment for the whole family.
  • Horse racing culture is rich in tradition, from the Kentucky Derby (“the greatest two minutes in sports,”) to the pageantry of Royal Ascot.
  • Horses are incredible athletes who utilize their natural balance, muscle, and speed, making the races incredibly exciting to watch.
  • We love how accessible horse racing is to anyone with a mobile device. You can watch, play and win at tracks around the world from just about anywhere.
  • You can get “up close and personal” with the athletes (equine and human.) Watching the horses in the paddock before each race, you get a good sense of the love, patience and excellent care horses receive from their grooms and trainers.
  • If you are an animal lover, you’ll naturally be drawn to the magnificent beauty of racehorses as they fly past the grandstand – a blur of color and grace!
  • Dress up or dress down, all are welcome at the track (honestly, ladies, we do love it when you wear your best hat!)
  • Horse racing is a day-long social event punctuated by exciting races. Bring your friends, pick your winners and kick back with a cold one on a summer day. What could be better?
  • Horse racing attracts a very diverse group of people to the track. Whether you’re mingling or simply “people watching,” a day at the races is always entertaining and often, inspiring. Each track has its own unique vibe!
  • Seasoned fans know there is never really a “bad” perspective for watching the races. In the grandstand seats, from the rail or the paddock view, every angle offers a unique glimpse of the horses and a place to cheer them home.

Our Commitment

You may have noticed that at Grants Pass Downs, we strive to do things a little differently. From the close relationships, we nurture with our fans and horsemen, to the quality of our broadcasts beamed to fans around the world, the passion we have for horse racing is unmistakable.

We believe the fan experience at Grants Pass Downs is truly unique and we take great pride in providing a venue that allows our fans to get close to the heart-pounding action on the racetrack. Our patrons have an opportunity to mix and mingle with trainers, jockeys, and staff each race day. We encourage our fans to be curious, ask questions, and lend feedback to our staff. Our goal is to go above and beyond the expectations of our patrons, providing exceptional customer service, both at the track and online.

Create a fun, safe and exceptional experience for our customer that makes a positive impact in equestrian and local communities of Oregon
Building legacies one race at a time

●Commitment to safety – safety is our first priority for our human and equine athletes, customers, and shareholders
●Racing with integrity – trust and honesty are practiced in all that we do
●Supporting diversity – we value and encourage all backgrounds, ideas, cultures, and thoughts
●Provide exceptional service – ensure relationships are built with our horsemen, horsewomen, racing fans, and shareholders
●Teamwork – we respect, trust and care for another in pursuit of great achievements
●Innovation – create and invest in new methods, technology, and efficiencies
(You may contact us at any time at


A Day at the Races

Are you preparing for a day at the races? If it’s been a while since your last visit, or you’re preparing to attend a horse race for the first time, it can be exciting…and also a bit confusing! After all, the world of horse racing has its own lingo, customs, and traditions.

The Basics

Horse racing is a world filled with connections, friends, and longstanding relationships. Owners, trainers, jockeys, and fans are used to seeing each other at the track week after week, which creates an amazing atmosphere for everyone.

When you spend a day at the races, expect to mix, mingle, and get to know others. (We are taking Covid precautions, however, so be aware of current social distancing, mask-wearing, and handwashing policies!)

Races tend to be spaced out about every 30 minutes, which means you’ll have plenty of chances to enjoy the sport AND the Grants Pass Downs track.

Starting A Day at The Races
Actually starts BEFORE race day!

Start times do tend to vary, so we encourage our guests to take a look at the race entries list for the day they plan to attend. You can find those here:

If you’ve never read one before, it can make your eyes gloss over a bit! No worries; scroll down the page and you’ll find a handy guide for understanding what you’re looking at. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find yourself referencing post times and gate numbers like a pro.

Once you’ve chosen your race day and taken a look at the overnight listing, you’re all set to get your tickets. You can easily book using our online ticketing system here: You’re also able to purchase your tickets by calling us directly at (541) 507-1699.

Arriving at the Races

Grants Pass Downs is located near the Josephine County Fairgrounds. You can get our address (and even info about parking your RV here!) on our visitor’s page:
Once you’re at the track you’ll want to find seats, pick up your racecard (sort of like a program). Considering making a wager? You certainly don’t need to do this, but it is often considered part of an exhilarating day at the races! Feel free to learn more about wagering at GDP here:

About 15-20 minutes prior to a race, you can see the jockeys, trainers, and horses preparing near the paddock. We take a great deal of pride in the amazing horses that race at Grants Pass Downs, and we also take their health seriously. For that reason, you’ll likely also see a veterinarian or two doing their work. All of our horses are checked by a vet prior to racing on our track, a process you can learn more about here:

Eventually you’ll hear a bell that lets the jockeys know they can start heading towards the gate. If you’ve wandered away from your seat, you’ll want to head back and be prepared to watch the race!


After the race (once your heart slows down!), the top horses will be taken to the winner’s enclosure. There may be a presentation of an award or memento, and you’ll probably see some photos being taken.

The jockey, however, will be heading off to get weighed again. Why? A weigh in confirmation validates that the weight of the jockey and their gear is the same as pre-race. Once everything checks out, you’ll hear the announcer confirm the finishing places. (If you placed a wager, it’s at this point that payouts are being processed!

Since you have another 30 minutes or so until the next post time, you’re free to get some snacks, make new friends, and explore the facilities. Enjoy your day at the races; we hope to see you again soon!


A Beginner’s Guide to Wagers

If you’ve spent time at or around a race track, you know that many horse racing fans like to place a wager or two on the races. Maybe you’ve never had a chance to place your own wager before, or maybe you’ve been a bit nervous to give it a try. Either way, we’d love to share just a bit more about how wagers work in this beginner’s guide to wagers!

No Need to Bet the Farm!

Did you know that wagers can start as low as $2?

You can place a wager on your favorite horse without breaking the bank. This is ideal for those who just want to have a bit of fun. After all, a race is always just a bit more thrilling when you feel you have something riding on the outcome.

There are avid race fans who like to place wagers based on:

  • The owner, trainer, or jockey associated with a certain horse
  • A horse’s previous win/loss record
  • Notorious underdogs
  • Certain times/gate numbers/entry numbers
  • A horse’s name or lineage
  • And many more!

Like any sport, horse racing fans have their own traditions, superstitions, and habits.

You’re welcome to check out our “Overnight Listings” page to see what horses will be racing on the day you plan to place your first wager!

On Track, Off Track, and Online Wagers

You don’t have to be “here” to try out wagering either! At Grants Pass Downs, our philosophy is that when you win, we win. That’s why we’ve made sure to accommodate as many of our wagering fans as possible.

If you want your wager to be part of your overall race day experience, we’d encourage you to place your wager right here at the track.

If you’re in the local area and would prefer to watch from a bar or restaurant, we offer off track wagers from various locations in Portland, Medford, Salem, Bend, Lake Oswego, and more! You can learn more about our off track wagering solutions here.

And if you’re watching online, we can work with that as well! Our online wagering partners include XpressBet, eBet, AmWest, and more. We also live stream our races with TVG, so you can watch your favorites win live.

If you’d like to study up a bit before placing your wager, you can check out Equibase, where you can view past performances and upcoming race entries. Quick wagers based on fun reasons (like the jockey wearing your favorite color!) and more studied wagers based on past performance can both be fun for their own reasons. Give them a try and see what you prefer!

Win, Place, Show – A Beginner’s Guide to Wagering

Once you’ve studied your options and made your choice, it’s time to decide what sort of wager you’ll be making! You have a few basic options here:

Win: You’re wagering for your horse to come in first place.
Place: You’re wagering for your horse to place either first OR second
Show: You’re wagering for your horse to come in first, second, OR third

We recommend you start there to get a feel for things! Once you feel you’ve mastered placing win, place, or show wagers, you could upgrade to other types of wagers. These include daily double, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, pick 3, pick 4, and pick 6.

There’s really no wrong way to go about placing a wager, and the goal is to have fun! If placing a more complex wager seems stressful or overwhelming, there’s no need to try to force it. Make the sort of wager you enjoy making, and focus on enjoying your race track experience.

Although there’s always more that could be shared, this beginner’s guide to wagers is meant to help prepare you for your first wagering experience. We can’t wait to see what happens! As always, when you win, we win.


Your Horse Racing Glossary

Horse racing has a language all its own! From horses who balk, bobble, and have just received a blowout, to baby races, blanket finishes, cuppy tracks, and routers: you may hear a few terms you haven’t come across in your day to day life. (Or that are being used in new ways; our version of a router is not like the one providing WiFi in your house!)

During the Race

ACTION – describes a horse’s manner of movement
ALL OUT – when a horse extends himself to the utmost
BALK – refusing to break from the starting gate
BOXED IN – a horse that is racing on the rail/pylons and is surrounded by other horses in front, outside and behind it
BOBBLE – a bad step usually coming out of the starting gate evidenced by a horse ducking its head or nearly going to its knees
BOLT – sudden veering from a straight course
CHECKED – when, during a race, a jockey or driver has to slow or stop the motion of his horse due to close quarters or interference
COVER – when a horse runs behind another horse moving on the outside of the field, it faces less wind resistance (i.e. it is racing with cover)
DRIVING – strong urging by rider or driver
FALTERED – a term used for a horse that was in contention early and drops back in the late stages
JOCKEY – the person who rides a horse in a race
LEAD PONY – horse or pony who heads the parade of field from paddock to starting gate. Also a horse or pony who accompanies a starter to post
POST – starting point or position in the starting gate
POST POSITION – position of stall in starting gate from which a horse starts
STARTING GATE – a mechanical device having partitions (stalls) for horses in which
they are confined until the starter releases the doors in front to begin the race

At the Barn

BACKSTRETCH – straightaway on the far side of track between the turns
BLINKERS – a cloth “mask” that goes over the horse’s head to limit a horse’s peripheral vision and help focus the horse and prevent distraction
BLOWOUT – a short, quick, timed workout, usually a day or two before a race
BREEDER – owner of dam (mother) at time foal is born
BREEZE – working a horse at a moderate speed; less effort than “handily”
BRIDLE – the equipment that goes over a horse’s head for control, consisting of the bit, headstall and the reins
BROODMARE – female horse used for breeding
GAIT – the ways in which a horse can move – walk, trot, pace, canter, gallop, run, etc.
GROOM – licensed handler responsible for the daily care of one or more race horses
HEAD – a margin between the horses; one horse leading another by the length of his head
LEG UP – to help a jockey mount his horse
LUNGE – horse rearing or plunging
PADDOCK – the area where horses are saddled
SCRATCH – to be taken out of a race
TACK – riders’ racing equipment

From the Announcer

BABY RACE – a race exclusively for two-year-olds
BEARING IN (OR OUT) – deviating from a straight course
BLANKET FINISH – three or more horses finishing a race so closely together they could be “covered by a blanket”
BOUNCE – poor race run directly following a career-best or near-best performance
BREAK MAIDEN – horse or rider winning first race of a career
CLAIMING RACE – race in which all horses entered are subject to being claimed or purchased for a specified price regardless of where they finish
CLOSER – a horse who runs best in the latter part of the race, coming from off the pace
CUPPY (TRACK) – a surface which breaks away under a horse’s hoof
CUSHION – surface of track or a layer of the track
DEAD-HEAT – two or more horses finishing in an exact tie at the wire
FAVOURITE – the horse that has the most money bet on it to win
FIELD – the horses in a race
HEAD OF THE STRETCH – the beginning of the stretch run home
IN THE MONEY – finishing first, second or third
ON THE BOARD – finishing among the first four
PHOTO FINISH – a result so close it is necessary to use a finish-line camera to determine the order of finish
ROUTER – the horse who performs well at distance races

Heard Someone Mention

ADDED MONEY – money added to the purse of a race through nomination fees, starting or entry fees, by the racing association or by a breeding or other fund
ALLOWANCES – weight permitted to be reduced because of the conditions of the race, by age or by sex or because an apprentice is on a horse
APPRENTICE – rider just beginning his/her career who has not ridden a certain number of winners within a specified period of time (also known as a bug boy)
CARD – a term for a program of racing (for example, twelve races on the card simply means twelve races will be run on that particular day)
CHALK – the favorite or the most heavily bet horse in a race
EXTRA WEIGHT (ADDED WEIGHT) – more weight than conditions of race require
MUDDER – the horse who races well on muddy tracks
NECK – a unit of measurement; a quarter of a length
RACING SECRETARY – an official who drafts conditions of races and assigns weights for handicap events
WALKOVER – a race which scratches down to only one starter who merely gallops the required distance
We’ve used sections from the comprehensive glossary created by the wonderful folks over at Woodbine (up in Canada). You can see their full version here if you’d like even more terms!