Two relays teams from the Colville Tribes make championship race
Sitting in the shadow of Mount Rainier, Emerald Downs is one of the premier thoroughbred race tracks on the West Coast, but on the weekend of June 12-14, Indian relay teams from across the country taught Seattle how to really ride a horse: Omak Express, the reigning Professional Indian Horse Racing Association’s world champion, placed third at the PIHRA season opener billed as the Battle of the Horse Nations.
After winning easily in the Friday heat, finishing first—but receiving a penalty to place second—in their Saturday heat, Omak Express came in third in Sunday’s Championship heat, losing to Carlson, of the Blackfoot Tribe, and War Man, of the Crow Nation.
Jockey Tyler Peasley was frustrated with the finish.
“Every race is a big deal to me,” said Peasley. “I come here to win, and that’s about all I want to do. We didn’t have the best race but hopefully we keep (the success) going.”
Fellow Colville Tribal team Grizzly Mountain won heats on Friday and Saturday before a rough start forced them to the back of the championship heat’s pack where they ended fifth.
Jockey Oliver Pakootas found himself hanging to the side of his horse trying to regain his balance. With his horse sprinting the front stretch full speed, Pakootas kicked his feet to the ground hoping to spring back onto his horse’s bare back.
Vince Brunn, media specialist for the track was impressed: “Amazing on Oliver’s attempt. It was a hell of a try. If Oliver was able to regain his balance and hold on, they might have had a chance to go on and win the race. They were racing good the whole weekend leading up to the final.” ”
About 30 feet farther down the track, Pakootas fell.
“We figured we’d come here and put it all on the line,” said Kerry Carden, team organizer for Grizzly Mountain.
Emerald Downs, which is owned by the Muckleshoot Nation, and PIHRA hosted the 15 teams that represented horse nations from around the Western United States.
The event marked the official kickoff of the 2015 PoloGear Horse Nations Professional Indian Relay Series.
According to Brunn, Emerald hosted a relay in 2006, but that event was not nearly as exciting.
“We we’re up all three days, I think we had crowds of 7,500 on Saturday and Sunday, so it went well.”
Other tribes converging to Emerald Downs included the Blackfeet, Crow, Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, Shoshone-Bannock and Umatilla.
All summer long, more then 60 teams will compete in 16 sanctioned races, earning prize money and points in hopes of qualifying for the All Nations Indian Relay Championships in Billings, Montana, Sept. 17-20.
Other Colville competitors included Marchand Relay, owned by George Marchand from Omak. Colville Tribal member Louis Zacherle jockeyed for Umatilla Express.
WEEKEND RACE RESULTS
Fridays’ winners: Heat 1 – Grizzly Mt. (Columbia River Basin), rider Oliver Pakootas, winning time 3:48.52. Heat 2 – Old Elk Relay (Crow Nation), rider Ashton Old Elk, 3:50.47. Heat 3 – Omak Express (Columbia River Basin) rider, Tyler Peasley, 3:44.60.
Saturdays’ winners: Heat 1 – Omak Express (Columbia River Basin), rider Tyler Peasley, winning time 3:47.32. Heat 2 – WarMan (Crow Nation), Rider J-Ree OldBull, 3:47.17 Heat 3 – Grizzly Mt. (Columbia River Basin), rider Oliver Pakootas, 3:35.46
Sunday’s winners: Championship Sunday 1st – Carlson (Blackfeet) 2nd – War Man (Crow Nation) 3rd – Omak Express (Colville) 4th – Awasapsii Express (Blackfeet) 5th – Grizzly Mt. (Colville)Consolation one – 1st place – OldElk Consolation two – 1st Place – Rides a Pretty Horse.