Ruidoso Downs Race Track kicks off its summer racing season over Memorial Day Weekend when live racing begins on Friday, May 22. The 2020 season covers 16 weeks of Friday through Sunday afternoon racing, plus Memorial Day and Labor Day Monday for a total of 50 live racing days for quarter horses and thoroughbreds.
Horsemen will see a five-percent increase in overnight purses and new stakes races. The inaugural running of the Rainbow Oaks and All American Oaks creates a new high-level racing option for three-year-old quarter horse fillies.
“The Oaks races give three-year-old fillies a chance to run at $300-400 thousand without having to compete against males,” said Jeff True, Ruidoso Downs president and general manager. “These two races mark the beginning of an industry trend that quarter horse breeders will benefit from.”
The new races augment the legendary Triple Crown program at Ruidoso Downs. Those signature events are the $1,000,000 Ruidoso Futurity and the $750,000 Ruidoso Derby on June 5-6; $1,000,000 Rainbow Futurity and $750,000 Rainbow Derby July 17-19; and the famous $3,000,000 All American Futurity and $1,500,000 All American Derby on September 6-7.
The stakes schedule has grown the last couple of years to include new races for specific horse segments. The John Andreini stakes for three year old and older quarter horses will start the four race series for older horses worth $350,000. The Rita Danley Stakes for New Mexico Bred fillies and the AQHA Day at the Races August 15 add new stakes opportunities for horses of all ages and classes. The thoroughbred racing program continues to offer rich opportunities with the $150,000 Copper Top and Mountain Top Futurities and the rich Zia Festival races.
“The interest in Ruidoso Downs by horsemen is indicated by the large number of stall applications we received from Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and California,” True said. “The New Mexico Bred program pays out millions each year and continues to be a staple of our racing program, also.”
Stall applications to race at Ruidoso Downs this summer were due March 9. Barns will open for trainers to set-up on April 10; barn area will open for horses April 15; horses can begin training on the track on April 20. Schooling races for unraced two year old quarter horses will be conducted on May 4-6.
Also new this year at Ruidoso Downs will be three handicapping contests that will ultimately award a seat in the National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas in 2021. Held over three different Saturdays – May 30, July 18, August 29 – the contests are expected to generate a great deal of interest and draw talented handicappers to Ruidoso Downs.
According to True: “The $3 million National Handicapping Championship is a national event that takes qualifying contest winners from around the country to Vegas to compete for an $800,000 cash prize and the bragging rights as best horseplayer in the country. This adds a whole new level of excitement to our summer program.”
Ruidoso Downs will offer a series of promotional weekends including a free t-shirt giveaway to the first 500 racing fans with a paid program on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of opening weekend. Other themed weekends include Hispanic Heritage Weekend (June 12-14), a Lawn Mower Derby for dads on Father’s Day Weekend (June 19-21), College Spirit Weekend (June 26-28), Zia Festival Weekend (July 24-26), the CityBank Chile the Kid Beer and Wine Festival (July 31-August 2), and the popular Battle of the Bases will be back for another year (August 8). For a complete calendar of promotions and events visit raceruidoso.com.
The All American Ruidoso Horse Sales continue to be the richest marketplace for American Quarter Horses. The Ruidoso Select QH Yearling Sale occupies its traditional Friday, Saturday, Sunday, post-race schedule on Labor Day weekend September 4-5-6. In 2019, more than 400 head of yearlings averaged ~$50,000 each at what was the richest horse sale ever conducted at the mountain top venue. The 2020 New Mexico Bred Sale will occur on August 21-22nd featuring registered NM bred TB and QH yearlings, mares, and racehorses.
Over the winter, Ruidoso Downs Race Track completed the two-year renovation project of the Turf Club by finishing the tiered-seating area with carpeting, paint, and new chairs. Available season ticket tables are on sale at the box office. Call the ticket office at 575-378-4140. Single performance tickets go on sale April 1.
For more information about the upcoming 2020 horse racing season at Ruidoso Downs Race Track, telephone 575-378-4431 or visit raceruidoso.com