Racing Returns to Arizona Fairs

Racing returns to Safford, Sonoita and Douglas.

Press Release

Racing will return to the Arizona county fairs.

Racing will return to Arizona rural counties as negotiations were finalized between the Arizona Counties Race Tracks at Safford, Sonoita and Douglas, Arizona, and the El Moro Foundation to host the 2016 El Moro de Cumpas horse race festival. 

Trials are scheduled to take place April 23-24, 2016, in Safford, Arizona, then on to Sonoita, Arizona, on May 7-8, 2016, with finals taking place at Douglas, Arizona, on May 21-22, 2016.  The El Moro de Cumpas 2016 horse race series will be Arizona’s richest county El Moro race meet with over $250,000 estimated in purse distribution.

A twist on the traditional horse racing circuit will be Greenlee County’s historic Duncan Hopefuls horse races, which will be run in 2016 at the race tracks in Safford, Sonoita and Douglas.  Robert Corbell, Greenlee County Supervisor for District 3, explained “our Greenlee County race track located at Duncan, Arizona sustained storm damage this summer.  To keep in the spirit of rural Arizona horse racing, the Greenlee County Board of Supervisors agreed to participate in the El Moro festivities by hosting our historic Greenlee County Duncan Hopefuls races at our neighbor race tracks in Safford, Sonoita and Douglas. We’ll be there to cheer on the races and show our Greenlee County spirit.”

Sharon Denham, Chair of the Arizona Counties Racing Association stated, “We’re excited about the El Moro races coming to our community.  These races bring the best Quarter Horses in the Western Region and Mexico to compete for the coveted title of El Moro de Cumpas Champion—it’s our version of the Kentucky Derby.” 

Geronimo and Gabriel Ramirez, President and Vice President of the El Moro Foundation noted, “The El Moro de Cumpas race has a legacy grounded in the culture of the Greater Southwest Region, but it is recognized worldwide as one of the most competitive bi-national horse races.  As a tribute to our cultural traditions and heritage, we are pleased to have the 2016 El Moro horse races running in Arizona’s rural counties.”

The El Moro de Cumpas horse race is named in honor of El Moro from the Mexican town of Cumpas.  In 1957, El Moro lost a match race to El Relampago from California.  The race took place on the main street of Agua Prieta in Mexico, close to the U.S. border.  Over 1.8 million pesos were bet (the equivalent of $1 million today), as well as cars, trucks, farm animals, and even many farms and ranches.  The race drew thousands.  El Moro was faster around the halfway mark, but he lost to El Relampago.  The name El Moro, however, lives on as a tribute that both winner and losers are heroes.

Race information, nomination forms, and stakes schedules are available on the El Moro Foundation website: and the Southern Arizona Horse Racing Association (SAHRA) Facebook, or by calling the El Moro Foundation office at (520) 333-8316.

AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHARacing on Twitter, “like” Q-Racing on Facebook and visit