Ruidoso Prepares for Opening

Ruidoso training races May 6-8.

April 25, 2013

Ruidoso Water Truck

Ruidoso water truck. PHOTO: Ty Wyant

The Ruidoso Downs racing surface has completed final preparations for the summer season that is culminated with the two highest purses ever offered for American Quarter Horses. Horses began arriving earlier this week, and will start training on the racetrack tomorrow.

The Grade 1, $2.8 million All American Derby on September 1 will have the largest purse ever offered in Quarter Horse racing. The purse exceeds the $2 million purse of the Kentucky Derby. The other two legs of the Thoroughbred Triple Crown, the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, offer $1 million purses. The Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotting standardbreds had a $1 million guaranteed purse in 2013.

The $2.6 million All American Futurity (G1), held on Labor Day, has the largest purse of any 2-year-old race in North America, regardless of breed, and is a record purse for Quarter Horse racing showcase event.

Ruidoso Downs is the only track in North America to have two $2.5 million-plus races on the annual stakes lineup.

Opening day features the day-long trials to the Grade 1, $750,000 Ruidoso Futurity. Racing runs on a Friday through Monday schedule with the addition to two Thursday programs: July 4 and August 15 (All American Futurity trials). There will be no racing on the Monday following the Thursday programs.

“We ripped and tilled the track to get moisture down in the track and added about 1,000 tons of material,” said Ruidoso Downs vice-president Les Nichols. "Our overwhelming goal with the racing surface is always the safety of the jockeys and the horses who compete here.”

Two of the Grade 1 classic races debut as $1 million races this summer: the Rainbow Derby and the Rainbow Futurity. These races comprise the second leg of the futurity/derby series at Ruidoso Downs. The $1 million-est. Rainbow Derby at 440 yards will be held on July 20 followed by the $1 million Rainbow Futurity at 400 yards on July 21. The first leg of the All American Triple Crown series, the Grade 1, $800,000-est. Ruidoso Derby and the Grade 1, $750,000 Ruidoso Futurity, will each have record purses when they are contested on June 8 and June 9, respectively.

Training races are set for May 6-8. The training races begin at 8:30 a.m., after the renovation break, and each race will be limited to six horses. Post times will be 18 minutes apart and horses must be saddled before coming to the paddock. The track hosts the popular horsemen’s welcome back barbecue on May 8 after the training races at the backside chapel.

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