Q-Racing Blog: Blessings in Ruidoso

It has been a big week in Ruidoso history.

Quarter Racing Journal

It has been a big week in Ruidoso history.

A lot has been happening here at Ruidoso Downs in recent weeks and I feel blessed. (Full disclosure: My day job is director of media relations and curator of the Racehorse Hall of Fame at Ruidoso Downs.)

If you missed one of the most important news items in American Quarter Horse racing history – horsemen have used that description talking to me – there has been a letter of intent to buy Ruidoso Downs and the Ruidoso Horse Sale Company. It has been signed by current owner R.D. Hubbard and a group of five leading horsemen. In alphabetical order, they are John Andreini, Narciso (Chicho) Flores, Gary McKinney, Stan Sigman and Johnny Trotter. Sigman was elected chairman of the group. This letter of intent is just the start of a process. All involved want to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

When I started writing this blog, I promised myself not want to write about myself. That’s weak. I am breaking that rule with this week’s blog because I think it can offer insight.

Hubbard, along with his wonderful wife Joan Dale, are incredible. This will be my 12th summer of racing at Ruidoso Downs and for the previous 11 summers I have worked in the press box, next to the Hubbard’s office and lounge, separated only by a door and a glass wall. I have seen them and talked to them virtually every day they have attended the races and that’s a lot of days. I have always felt at ease and they are accommodating. I think it’s the “Kansas” coming out in them. That is their roots and in their DNA.

The rare times I was writing a release that he needed to review, Hubbard always made adjustments that helped the story. I never give any of his horses special attention and he understands that credibility is more important and is a long-term winner.

Hubbard saved Ruidoso Downs in the pre-casino days with his financial support. Can you imagine Quarter Horse racing without Ruidoso Downs? I was the national Quarter Horse racing columnist for Daily Racing Form at the time and every spring during those tough times I wondered if this would be the year that I would be writing about Ruidoso Downs closing. Thanks to Hubbard, I never had to write that column.

Philanthropically, the Hubbards have given more than the vast majority of people will ever know. Again, that’s the Kansas coming out in them. We help our neighbors.

It is a blessing to work for this organization and after dealing with the story about the letter of intent, I talked to our chaplain Darrell Winter. I told him that I felt blessed about the track’s future.

Change is inevitable. Embrace it. It’s life.

I am blessed because of the prospect of working with this new team, assuming the deal gets done. I know that majority of them – some for many years – and they are a class group. It reminds me of the days when Quarter Horse Racing Inc., leased Los Alamitos for the winter Horsemen’s Quarter Horse Racing Assn. (HQHRA) meet and started a race named the Champion of Champions. They also leased Bay Meadows for the Peninsula Quarter Horse Racing Assn. (PQHRA) meeting and introduced the Bay Meadows Futurity and the Golden State Derby. Their board included Robert Boniface, L.A. “Pat” Hyland and Spencer Childers, along with the youngster – Dr. Ed Allred. Boniface was executive vice-president of Hewlett-Packard. Hyland was a principal in the invention of radar and became the president and CEO of Hughes Aircraft. Childers built an iconic breeding program and mentored current Los Alamitos Race Course owner Allred, the 14-time champion owner or breeder.

The men in the process of purchasing Ruidoso Downs are in the same class.

I worked the HQHRA meet and during my first HQHRA season Dash For Cash (my greatest-of-all-time Quarter Horse) won the Champion of Champions.

It’s been a long road since that December day and I’ve been blessed every step of the course. Some times were tough, but they prepared me for the blessings ahead.

The day after the letter of intent was announced, I renewed my driver’s license. The woman asked if I wanted to renew for four years or eight years. I chose eight years.

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