Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino will host the annual Kentucky Derby Party with a deep Kentucky Derby simulcast on Saturday and offer the Kentucky Oaks on Friday.
The Kentucky Derby is for three-year-old thoroughbreds while the Kentucky Oaks is for three-year-old thoroughbred fillies.
The All American Turf Club opens at noon and Billy’s Race Book opening at 8 a.m. First post time at Churchill Downs is 8:30 a.m. Post time for the Kentucky Derby is scheduled for 4:46 p.m. Admission is free.
“While we are preparing for our opening of Ruidoso Downs on May 25th, all of us plan to stop and enjoy the annual Run for the Roses,” president and general manager Jeff True said. “While we are known in horse racing for hosting the Triple Crown of quarter horse racing, we acknowledge the importance of the Kentucky Derby and we’re going to have an exciting day of events here for our racing fans.”
Ruidoso Downs will have a $500 handicapping contest to pick the winner of the Kentucky Derby. Patrons will be asked to select a horse in the field, and three winners will be selected from among the fans who picked the winning horse to share in a cash prize.
The $500 Kentucky Derby hat contest will be conducted for anyone who wishes to participate by wearing a stylish or distinguishable hat. There will be three winners of the contest sharing in the cash prize. The hat contest will be held inside Billy’s Sports Bar and Grill at 3 p.m.
Here are some of the top contenders expected to compete in Saturday’s running of the Kentucky Derby.
Justify is the likely Kentucky Derby favorite and will be ridden by New Mexico’s Mike Smith. He is trained by four-time Derby winner Bob Baffert. Known as “Big Red”around the barn, Justify won the $1 million Santa Anita Derby by three lengths. He was purchasedas a yearling for $500,000. The Scat Daddy son is trying to become the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby without racing as a two-year-old.
Mendelssohn, another Scat Daddy son, is from the stable of famed European trainer Aiden O’Brien and won the $2 million United Arab Emirates Derby by almost 19 lengths. O’Brien said Mendelssohn is the horse best suited to run in the Kentucky Derby that he has ever trained. Superlative jockey Ryan Moore will be aboard and is passing on the chance to ride for O’Brien in the prestigious Two Thousand Guineas, which O’Brien has won eight times.
Magnum Moon istrained by Todd Pletcher, who has four horses entered in the Derby. Pletcher started his career by helping his father Jake when he was seven-years-old and spent each summer until he went to college at Ruidoso Downs working for his father.
A son of Malibu Moon, Magnum Moonwon the $1 million Arkansas Derby last month to remain undefeated from four lifetime starts. The $380,000 yearling purchase also never raced as a two-year-old and is attempting to break the “Apollo Jinx.”
Good Magic won the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile last fall and that win led him to the 2017 champion two-year-old male title. The $1 million yearling purchase already has $1.8 million in earnings. He comes off a win in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes.
Noble Indy was a come-from-behind winner in the $1 million Louisiana Derby having led in the race, lost the lead and then battled back to win by a neck. The Pletcher-trained colt has three wins from four starts. His only setback was a troubled third-place run in the Risen Star Stakes.
Audible, a New York-bred, won the $1 million Florida Derby and has four wins in five starts. The Pletcher-trained colt has won each of his latest four starts and each of those outs was around two turns.
Another Pletcher-trained colt, Vino Rosso, won the $750,000 Wood Memorial despite an objection in the stretch of the race. John Velazquez is aboard the colt who was purchased as a yearling for $410,000. Velazquez also rode Audible and Noble Indy in their latest races. Reports indicate that Velazquez, who won last year’s Kentucky Derby on Always Dreaming, will stick with Vino Rosso.
A field of 20 horses will compete in the Kentucky Derby for its $2 million purse.
The two main contenders in the Kentucky Oaks are Midnight Bisou and Monomy Girl.
Midnight Bisou, trained by Bill Spawr, scored three stakes wins in her latest three starts, all at Santa Anita. The daughter of Midnight Lute won the Grade 1, Santa Anita Oaks by three-and-one-half lengths as the 3-5 favorite in her most recent out.
Monomoy Girl won the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland by more than five length in her latest out. The Brad Cox trained daughter of Tapizar won the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fairgrounds two starts ago.
There will be a special daily double between the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby.
The 2018 horse racing season opens at Ruidoso Downs on Friday, May 25th, and continues with racing every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Labor Day weekend. Tickets are available by telephone at 575-378-4140, or for more information visit www.raceruidoso.com.