Q-Racing Blog: Stepping Stone

The NM State Fair Futurity has a storied history.

The NM State Fair Futurity has a storied history.

If you check out the New Mexico State Fair Futurity you’ll find a race for New Mexico-breds over 400 yards, about a $250,000 purse with a restricted Grade 3 classification.

On the surface, it’s just another stop on the circuit for New Mexico-bred 2-year-olds.

But for American Quarter Horse history buffs, the New Mexico State Fair Futurity is much more.

The New Mexico State Fair Futurity was first run in 1946 when the State Fair was just five years old. World War II had ended the year before and New Mexico racing had gained pari-mutuel status. La Mesa Park in Raton opened that August. Ruidoso Downs offered pari-mutuel racing the following summer.

In 2016-17, Sunland Park has 72 dates (starting December 16, 2016), SunRay Park has 36 dates, Ruidoso Downs has 60 dates, The Downs at Albuquerque has 41 dates, The New Mexico State Fair runs for 17 consecutive days and Zia Park has 56 days. There is a heavy overlap of racing dates.

From 1946 through 1991 the New Mexico State Fair Futurity was open to males and females. From 1992 through 2014, it was sex-segregated as the Senor and Senorita futurities. Now it runs with the original name with both males and females.

The 1946 running was won by Pelican, who was named 1947 champion stallion. Then the only championship awards were world champion, champion stallion and champion mare. Miss Princess (Woven Web TB) was 1947 champion mare and world champion. Pelican won the 440-yard New Mexico State Fair Futurity in :23.20 and the purse is unknown.

The 1948 renewal was taken by Maddon’s Bright Eyes. She was the 1949 world champion and in 1951 shared world champion honors with Monita.

The 1951 futurity had a $4,806 purse and was won by Black Easter Bunny with a time of :22.50. She was the 1952 champion 3-year-old filly. Black Easter Bunny is probably best known as the foundation mare of the legendary Spencer Childers’ breeding program. Childers offered his wife, Florence, Black Easter Bunny or a mink coat for Christmas. She chose the mare and he bought the mare for a reported $7,500. Wise choice. In 1959, Black Easter Bunny produced 1961 champion 2-year-old filly Bunny’s Bar Maid and the Childers’ breeding program was off and running to a legendary level.

The New Mexico State Fair Futurity was also won by Roan Man, Marooned, A Roon, Bartendress, Major Rime and First Moonflash, just to mention a few.

Champion First Moonflash is the sire of three finalists in this year’s New Mexico State Fair Futurity on September 24, headed by fastest-qualifier Mitey Man.

Bobby Simmons Mitey Man won his maiden in his third start, a 300-yard maiden race at Ruidoso Downs on August 22. He pulled out to win by one length.

“That maiden race got him ready for the (New Mexico State Fair Futurity) trials,” said trainer Trey Wood. “He ran well and had three weeks until the trials.”

Mitey Man stepped up in the trials with a 2 1/4-length win in the fastest time of :19.779 for 400 yards in the second of five trials.

“It was his first time under the lights and he ran really well. If he can get away from the gate like he did in his trial, he’ll do really well,” said Wood.

When the New Mexico State Fair Futurity is run, few people in the stands will know the race’s history. They should. It’s been a stepping stone to greater success.

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 www.aqharacing.com.