The summer Ruidoso Downs racing season begins earlier than previous years and the gates open this Friday with the opening day highlighted by seven strong trials to the $116,840 Maiden Stakes.
First post time is 1 p.m.
The track features numerous improvements this year, including a remodeled All American Turf Club, a renovated Billy The Kid Casino and a state-of-the-art message board at the highway entrance.
The All American Turf Club renovation is highlighted by new carpeting, paint, lighting and furniture. The renovated bar areas, including the horseshoe bar, have new countertops and bar stools.
Horse racing memorabilia from the Ruidoso Racehorse Hall of Fame and racing museum fill a new display case near the elevator.
The primary casino changes are new carpeting and a new layout of the gaming floor. There are 26 new machines operating with another 20 new games to be added over the next month. There were 100 new machines installed last season.
A renovated, state-of-the-art sign greets people approaching Ruidoso Downs with high-resolution video boards on both sides of the sign.
The 50-foot tall sign features two, new 8-foot by 12-foot LED full-color screens in the middle of the sign. Each screen is a digital message board that provides the latest information about Ruidoso Downs. Adorning the top of the sign is a large Ruidoso Downs logo.
“The improvements to the Turf Club and casino are investments in the fan experience that we expect to pay dividends directly to our customers,” said Ruidoso Downs president and general manager Jeff True.
The Maiden Stakes trials at 350 yards are for three-year-olds through five-year-olds who had not won a race as of March 1, 2019. The horses with the 10-fastest times from the trials gain eligibility to the Maiden Stakes on Memorial Day, May 27.
The Maiden Stakes trials will be the first seven races on the 10-race program and have 64 entrants.
David Valdez’s No Mires A La Luna along with Jimmy Vasquez and Angela Vasquez’s Jess Saying bring impressive stakes credentials into their Maiden Stakes trials.
No Mires A La Luna is in the first trial while Jess Saying competes in the second trial.
Trained by Trey Ellis, No Mires A La Luna makes his first start since a third-place finish in the Grade 1, $3-million All American Futurity on Labor Day. The gelding by First Moonflash finished three-quarters of a length behind 2018 champion two-year-old gelding Apocalyptical Jess in the All American Futurity.
No Mires A La Luna was also third, beaten by a neck, in the $345,655 Mountain Top Futurity for New Mexico-breds.
From eight career starts, No Mires A La Luna has earned $307,461 with three second-place finishes and three third-place runs.
Raul Ramirez Jr. rides No Mires A La Luna for the first time with the sixth post position.
Jess Saying settled for second place when she came up only a nose short of Eagle Coast in the Grade 2, $344,250 Hobbs America Futurity at Zia Park last fall. The Mr Jess Perry-sired filly was second by a neck in her Hobbs America Futurity trial.
Trainer Cynthia Gonzalez named Jaime Parga Leos to ride Jess Saying and they drew the seventh post position.
Joining the first running of the Maiden Stakes this summer is the return of the John Deere Juvenile Challenge on June 2 and the first running of $45,000 Rita Danley Stakes for female quarter horses on June 30.
The season features seven Grade 1 stakes and the iconic highlight is the All American Futurity on Labor Day.
For additional Ruidoso Downs information, go to www.raceruidoso.com, visit the Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino Facebook page and follow Ruidoso Downs on Twitter @RuidosoDowns and on Instagram.