“And they’re off!” Horse-racing season at the Ruidoso Downs Racetrack begins each year on Memorial Day and lasts until Labor Day. This season Ruidoso Downs celebrates its 60th anniversary racing season, according to the Ruidoso Downs Racing Web site. The racetrack is also home of the Billy the Kid Casino, which offers more gambling fun for visitors.
The racetrack opened in 1946. Since 1959 it has been the host of the richest race in the world for quarter horses, the All American Futurity, which will be held on Labor Day, Sept. 4, as the last race of the season. The race has a total purse of $2 million.
Ruidoso Downs Racetrack also hosts the Ruidoso Futurity and the Rainbow Futurity. All three futurity races are known as the Triple Crown of quarter horse racing. Futurity races are usually raced by two-year- old horses while derbies are raced by three-year-olds.
The racetrack features two tracks, a quarter horse sprint track and an oval track for both thoroughbred and quarter horse racing.
Races are held every week Thursday through Sunday except on holiday weekends, when races run Friday through Monday.
The first race ever at Ruidoso Downs Racetrack was run in the summer of 1947, according to GoRuidoso.com. Back then, it was not the established racing facility it is today so it literally took hours to prepare for the race, a race in which locals volunteered to judge the finish. In the late 1940s the track was little more than a coarsely plowed road with a considerable uphill tilt.
Billy the Kid Casino
Opened in May 1999, The Billy the Kid Casino houses more than 300 slot machines, including popular favorites Wheel of Fortune and Texas Tea, and a host of video poker machines. The casino offers new expanded daily hours from 10 a.m. to midnight weekdays and 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. weekends, according to RuidosoDownsRacing.com.
The 20,000-square-foot casino has a new look after several months of remodeling, with new games, wallpaper and carpet. Its several restaurants include Billy’s Bar and Grill, the Billy the Kid Buffet and Billy’s Race Book, where simulcast wagering is available on the largest television in Lincoln County.
— Compiled by Bryant Million, Freedom Newspapers