Q-Racing Blog: Ruidoso Guide

Fresh mountain air and great horses, what else could you ask for?

Fresh mountain air and great horses, what else could you ask for?

The annual Ruidoso Downs summer season starts on Friday, May 25, with the first of two days of trials to the Ruidoso Futurity (G1) and the trials to the Ruidoso Derby (G1), the finals of which are on June 9-10.

The 47-day season runs through Labor Day with the traditional running of the All American Futurity (G1). Racing runs Friday-Monday the first and final race weeks. Every racing week in between those two weeks runs on a Friday through Sunday schedule.

The other Grade 1 stakes during the summer are the Rainbow Futurity, Rainbow Derby and the All American Gold Cup.

I have been coming to Ruidoso for about half a century and have lived here for a dozen years. Here are some personal tips I hope will enhance your Ruidoso experience.

First, if you have never been to Ruidoso, just come and keep reading this blog. You’ll be glad you did.

Second, keep track of the monsoon season. That is when it rains and everything turns green. The Fourth of July is the general rule for the start of the monsoon season. We have endured a very dry winter and are anxiously awaiting the rain. If you get here to vacation during the monsoon season, it will be green and you’ll enjoy the nice, cooling afternoon showers. It certainly doesn’t rain every afternoon and dampen your day at the races. The track at Ruidoso Downs handles water as good if not better than any track I’ve seen. Kudos to the track crew.

Third, don’t micro-manage your stay. Wing it and give yourself extra time. There are no “I gottas.” I suggest you extend your stay to give yourself plenty of time to relax, take a deep breath and inhale the cool mountain air.

Fourth, remember that mountain air is at 6,000 feet or higher. Always stay hydrated. Go for a walk, hike or run, however remember the altitude – or the altitude will remind you. Hydration is key. Always tell someone where you are going. Don’t forget your phone. One of the places I like to run is Cedar Creek. You can park behind the ranger station (901 Mechem Drive) or across the Cedar Creek road from the ranger station. Go early (remember, it rains!) and if you see anything close to a threatening cloud, immediately head to your vehicle.

Fifth, everybody’s got to eat. There are numerous restaurants throughout the area at many price points. There are also restaurants at the track. I suggest when you come to the track that you get there early and get something to eat, settle in and take in the races. Starting this summer, there will be $1,000 added to the fifth race trifecta poll on Saturdays. Handicap that race and chase the extra cash in the trifecta.

Here are restaurants that get my business. They are close to my house and that’s why I go there. This is not an endorsement and does not demean any other restaurant. I go to El Camino Nuevo for Mexican food, Texas Club for beef, Michael J’s for Italian food and Farley’s for a burger or a pizza. For Texas Club and Michael J’s, you may need a reservation. Look online to see their menus, hours and prices. Many Ruidoso restaurants are closed several days each week.

Sixth, my suggested Ruidoso experience: Come up for Labor Day weekend and then stay the following week. After Labor Day, the crowd clears out and chaos turns into calm. Locals say, “We get our town back” and “The license plates turn from white back to yellow.”

The Zia Festival the last weekend in July is a fun time for the family and you’ll have full fields.

I also recommend trial weekends. You get to see all the good horses and talk with fellow horsemen.

There is no bad time to come to Ruidoso. Just come.

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