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The architectural designs pinned on the walls at Northwest Racing Associates' headquarters in Auburn show impressive grandstands, clubhouses and betting arenas. In the office, young designers pore over blueprints and debate how many yogurt stands the new facility should offer. Engineers figure how much fresh air should circulate in the horse stables.
For months, designs for a new thoroughbred racing facility in Auburn were merely dreams. Now, with the state's conditional approval, the Auburn track is swiftly moving toward reality.
The Auburn track's come-from-behind victory over rival proposals in Fife and Lacey was due, in large measure, to the man in charge at Northwest Racing Associates: aerospace entrepreneur-turned-horse breeder Ron Crockett.
The forceful, single-minded 54-year-old is credited by investors and industry experts with winning the Horse Racing Commission's nod through decisiveness and personal risk-taking.
"Crockett was willing to put his money where his mouth is," said local developer and racetrack investor Herman Sarkowsky, referring to Crockett's personal financial commitment to launch Northwest Racing's proposal. …