Downs at Albuquerque Releases $2.6-Million Stakes Schedule for its 55-Date Season

The Albuquerque Fall Championship is granted Grade 1 status and will offer a stakes-record $300,000 purse.

Edited press release

The Downs at Albuquerque opens its 55-date season on June 29. PHOTO: Albuquerque Downs

The Downs at Albuquerque has released its track-record 23-race, $2.602-million stakes schedule for its 2018 Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse meet, which opens June 29.

Of The Downs 23 stakes races, 15 will be for Thoroughbreds and eight will be for Quarter Horses. The track’s Thoroughbred stakes will be worth an estimated $1.08 million, and its Quarter Horse stakes will be worth an estimated $1.4 million.

The highlight of the 55-date season, the 440-yard Albuquerque Fall Quarter Horse Championship, Presented by South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, will be one of five stakes offered on closing day, September 23. In addition to being granted Grade 1 status by the American Quarter Horse Association, the race will offer a stakes-record $300,000 purse.

The Albuquerque Fall Championship has fast become one of the sport’s most significant stakes races since its first running in 2015, which was won by then-reigning AQHA world champion JRC Callas First. Last year’s Fall Championship was won by Jessies First Down, the sport’s world champion in 2016 and ’17.

“Getting our Fall Quarter Horse Championship to Grade 1 status has been one of our main objectives since it started three years ago,” said Albuquerque Downs president of racing Don Cook. “The fact that it has achieved Grade 1 status in just its fourth year shows that it has attracted quality horses and has been supported by horsemen throughout the country.

“We’ve attracted many of the best racing Quarter Horses in the world for this race,” he added. “We’re very pleased about that.”

The track’s richest race for any breed, the 73rd running of the 400-yard, $400,000 New Mexico State Fair Quarter Horse Futurity (RG3), will be one of two stakes contested on the penultimate day of the meet, September 22. The New Mexico State Fair Futurity began with its first running in 1946, when AQHA champion Pelican earned the winner’s share of the purse, and it is one of the oldest Quarter Horse stakes in the country. Past winners include AQHA champions Maddon’s Bright Eyes (1948), Black Easter Bunny (’51), Now I Know (’95) and First Moonflash (2007).

In addition, The Downs at Albuquerque will play host to a stakes in the AQHA’s Bank of America Racing Challenge program. The winner of the 870-yard, $52,000-estimated AQHA Albuquerque Distance Challenge (G3) on July 29 will earn a starting berth in the November 17, $105,000 AQHA Distance Challenge Championship (G1) at historic Los Alamitos Racecourse near Los Angeles, California.

The Downs’ signature Thoroughbred stakes race, the 1 1/8-mile, $200,000 Downs at Albuquerque Handicap, will be run on August 4. Other prominent Thoroughbred stakes include the 6-furlong, $200,000-est. New Mexico State Fair Thoroughbred Futurity (R) for state-bred 2-year-olds on September 23

Live racing will be offered at The Downs on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, starting at 6:05 p.m. (MDT), and Sundays, starting at 1:30. The schedule will change during the New Mexico State Fair portion of the meet in September.

The Downs at Albuquerque Racetrack and Casino is located in the heart of Albuquerque at Expo New Mexico, the home of the New Mexico State Fair, and general admission and parking are always free (via the casino entrance at Louisiana and Central) . For more information, visit www.abqdowns.com and click on the “Racing” link at the top of the homepage.

DOWNS AT ALBUQUERQUE 2018 QUARTER HORSE STAKES SCHEDULE

(All purses noted list guaranteed value, unless otherwise noted.)

July 29: AQHA Albuquerque Distance Challenge Stakes (G3) (QH), 870 yards, $52,000-estimated

August 26: First Moonflash Maturity (R) (QH), New Mexico-bred 4-year-olds & older, 440 yards, $70,000

September 9: Balloon City Stakes (QH), 3-year-olds & older fillies and mares, 400 yards, $50,000

September 22: La Fiesta Derby (QH), 3-year-olds, 440 yards, $200,000-estimated

September 22: New Mexico State Fair Quarter Horse Futurity (RG3) (QH), New Mexico-bred 2-year-olds, 400 yards, $400,000-estimated

September 23: La Fiesta Futurity (QH), 2-year-olds, 400 yards, $300,000-estimated

September 23: New Mexico State Fair Derby (RG3) (QH), New Mexico-bred 3-year-olds, 400 yards, $150,000-estimated

September 23: Downs at Albuquerque Fall Championship, Presented by South Point Hotel & Casino (G1) (QH), 3-year-olds & older, 440 yards, $300,000

AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHA Racing on Twitter, "like" Q-Racing on Facebook, and visit www.aqha.com/racing.