05/25/2010 11:00PM

All American Futurity gets future wagering


The most famous race for

Quarter Horses is getting a future wager. Fans of the All American Futurity can bet on the Labor Day classic starting in July. It will be a first for the Grade 1, $2 million race in one of several upgrades for the Ruidoso Downs meet that opens Friday. The 60-date season for Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds will close Sept 6 .

The race's future wager will be available July 15-18. There will be 24 betting interests, with 23 being individual horses and an additional interest serving as the field. The horses offered will be determined by a group of handicappers working in conjunction with the American Quarter Horse Association.

"The wager was modeled after the Kentucky Derby Future Wager," said Ann McGovern, president of Ruidoso. "We're hoping to increase the awareness of 2-year-old racing in general, but the All American, specifically. The AQHA has been instrumental in helping us work through the details."

McGovern said the July dates were selected because they follow trials for the Rainbow Futurity, the second of the three major 2-year-old Quarter Horse stakes run each meet at Ruidoso. The Rainbow, on July 25, is a Grade 1 worth an estimated $625,000 and annually precedes the All American. The first of the major stakes is the Grade 1, $500,000 Ruidoso Futurity on June 13. Any horse who can sweep the three races will win a $4 million bonus.

Heading into the meet, 189 horses are eligible for the bonus. That is the number of 2-year-olds set to run in Friday's trials for the Ruidoso Futurity. In all, 19 trial races have been carded for the opening-day card that has an early start of 11 a.m. Mountain. Last year, there were 17 trials.

And while Ruidoso's meet is driven by 2-year-old racing, the track has restructured the nomination payments on its premier Quarter Horse races for 3-year-olds, including the All American Derby. This year, the race will be worth an

estimated $1.5 million. Last year, the purse was $625,000.

"We really wanted to concentrate on 3-year-old Quarter Horse racing, and rewarding those horses that continue to race," McGovern said. "It was definitely a calculated move on our part to strengthen the derbies."

Another goal this meet is to educate the Lincoln County area

Ruidoso calls home about the track's economic impact in advance of a fall referendum that could bring gaming tax relief. Ruidoso, which has a 300-machine slots operation, sought tax parity with Indian gaming casinos during the state legislative session earlier this year. It did not have success, but a petition by community leaders for a gross-receipts tax increase with funds tabbed for Ruidoso's gaming taxes was heard and a referendum will be scheduled for either September or November.