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Sunday, June 1, 2003
Last modified at 8:32 p.m. on Wednesday, May 28, 2003
© 2003 - The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Ruidoso Downs gives area taste of horse racing

Tourists in general and horsemen in particular know the trail west out of the South Plains to Ruidoso, N.M. Located 220 miles west of Lubbock in the Sacramento Mountains of south central New Mexico, the city is home to the famed Ruidoso Downs race track and casino.

The annual racing meet opened May 23 and continues through Labor Day with the running of the $2 million All American Futurity. General admission is free; parking is free unless a patron opts for valet.

Thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown plays out each year in Ruidoso and includes the Ruidoso Futurity, the Rainbow Futurity and the All-American Futurity.

Quarter horse handlers are chasing a big jackpot this year with any 2-year-old who can sweep the Triple Crown series earns a multi-million dollar bonus. The only quarter horse Triple Crown winner was Special Effort in 1981.

The bonus offers an incentive to horsemen who in recent years had bypassed the first two futurities to concentrate on the far more lucrative All American.

Although known more to the casual fan for its famous quarter horse series, Ruidoso Downs features a comparable amount of thoroughbred racing.

New Mexico racing suffered through lean times in the 1990s, but has experienced a recent resurgence since the state Legislature allowed tracks to install slot machines. Part of the revenues have been funneled into purses, meaning horses are now running for more money.

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