AQHA Tabs Albuquerque Downs to Host 2019 Challenge Championships
The tenative date for the major event is set for October 26, 2019
July 12, 2018
The American Quarter Horse Association has chosen Albuquerque Downs to host its 2019 Bank of America Challenge Championships.
This will mark the first time that Albuquerque Downs has hosted the Challenge Championships and the first time since 1993 that the event will be held in New Mexico. That year’s inaugural Challenge Championships were held at Sunland Park Racetrack.
“We are so excited about this,” said AQHA chief racing officer Janet VanBebber. “AQHA appreciates (Albuquerque Downs chairman of the board) Paul Blanchard and racing director Don Cook in their enthusiasm to conduct and host the Challenge Championships. Additionally, we appreciate the commitment they’ve shown the industry in renovations at their track, supporting integrity efforts, and efforts to further Quarter Horse racing.
“Albuquerque is a lovely city, The Downs is a great racetrack, and I’m certain that this will be a grand event,” she added.
The Bank of America Challenge Championships is the year-end culmination of the Challenge program, which was conceived by the AQHA in the early ’90s to give top-flight Quarter Horses additional racing opportunities. Regional races held around the world, including South America and Canada, during the year give horses qualifying berths to the Challenge Championships, which annually brings together those top horses on a single night of racing.
This year’s 25th anniversary Challenge Championships will take place on November 17 at Los Alamitos Racecourse near Los Angeles. Last year’s Challenge Championships were held at Prairie Meadows Racetrack near Des Moines, Iowa. Other tracks that have hosted the event include Lone Star Park near Dallas, Sam Houston Race Park, Turf Paradise Racetrack in Phoenix, and Retama Park near San Antonio, Texas.
According to a press release issued by the AQHA, Albuquerque Downs has committed to funding that will strengthen the Challenge Championship purses, and AQHA continues to pursue new sponsorships. Talks are already underway to secure a site for the 2020 Challenge Championships.
“It’s the partnership between our organization and the host facility that creates a thriving event that positively impacts the industry,” VanBebber said. “I’m very proud that we are back on track in these endeavors.”
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