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Ruidoso Downs, NM 88346
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Ruidoso Downs' Growth Goes Beyond Track's Border

Amanda Greer

02/20/2014

Racetrack figures always go beyond the sometimes confusing numbers and land on Main Street.

This is especially true at Ruidoso Downs.

Located in a small town in a county with little more than 20,000 residents, “the numbers” from Ruidoso Downs drive the local economy every summer. The more people that attend the races, the more people are in town to support local business. In addition to going to the track, visitors shop in the numerous local boutiques, eat at diverse restaurants and golf at the local courses. That provides incentive to open new businesses and produce more local jobs. Everybody wins when Ruidoso Downs opens every Memorial Day weekend for the summer run through Labor Day.

“While Ruidoso Downs provides about 500 jobs every summer, we are thrilled that people come to the track and also support our local businesses,” said general manger Shaun Hubbard. “These people are our neighbors and friends and, of course, we want to see them do well.”

Last summer, the total attendance at Ruidoso Downs was the equivalent of one in 11 people who live in New Mexico. Ruidoso Downs thrived and the Ruidoso season ended with smiles on locals’ faces.

Ironically, the Ruidoso Downs’ numbers are growing at a time when horseracing nationwide shows declines. A prime reason for these declines is due to fewer potential racehorses being born. Many breeders are breeding fewer mares, thus fewer foals.

This also means there are fewer foals that can potentially be nominated to Ruidoso Downs’ famed Grade 1 races. Yet, “the numbers” at Ruidoso Downs show exactly the opposite result.

This summer the current projections indicate there could be up to 320 two-year-olds competing in the two days of trials to the Grade 1, $2.6 million All American Futurity on August 14-15. The $900,000 Rainbow Futurity projects to have up to 260 juveniles racing in the trials on July 3-4. The $700,000 Ruidoso Futurity is expected to have up to 260 entries in the trials on the meet’s first two days, May 22-23.

Last year, the All American Futurity trials had 280 entries, the Rainbow Futurity trials had 252 entries and the Ruidoso Futurity trials had 245 entries. Translation: The 2014 All American Futurity trial entries project to up 14 percent while the number of horses racing in the Rainbow Futurity trials and Ruidoso Futurity would show slight increases.

The initial figures for the 2015 Triple Crown futurities – All American, Rainbow and Ruidoso futurities – show an estimated 15-percent boost in nominees over this year.

When compared to five years ago, “the numbers” for 2014 are striking and show the long-term growth of Ruidoso Downs that translates to the local economy. The All American Futurity trial entries project to be up 62 percent, Rainbow Futurity trial entries could up 45 percent and Ruidoso Futurity trial entries should rise 37 percent.

The “real numbers” are the purses that will be paid out in the six Grade 1 stakes this summer at Ruidoso Downs. This money is awarded to the owners, trainers and jockeys who are spending money in the Ruidoso area every summer.

The total purse projection is $8.7 million for the major stakes: the All American Futurity, the All American Derby, the Rainbow Futurity, the Rainbow Derby, the Ruidoso Futurity, the Ruidoso Derby and their associated stakes. These races are led by the $2.6 million pot in the All American Futurity with the winner taking $1.3 million.

The real bottom line is on Main Street, or in Ruidoso’s case it’s Sudderth Drive and Mechem Drive. That is where much of the money from visitors finds its way into the local economy and multiplies four to seven times, according to the New Mexico Tourism Department.

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