05/23/2013 4:09PM

Arapahoe Park: New stables expected to boost field size at 39-day meet

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Arapahoe Park in Aurora, Colo., opens a 39-date mixed meet on Saturday with a strong population of Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses, bolstered by new stables from Arizona and Nebraska. There are also two new offtrack betting facilities serving Arapahoe, while the stakes schedule is again centered around the $100,000 Gold Rush Futurity for 2-year-old Thoroughbreds on the closing-day card Aug. 18.

Arapahoe gets its season started with a nine-race program that drew 83 horses.

“This year, you’re going to see bigger fields,” said Jonathan Horowitz, a spokesperson for Arapahoe who also serves as the track’s announcer. “We’ve got new trainers coming in from Nebraska, and we’ve got a lot of trainers from Arizona.”

The feature Saturday is a five-furlong allowance that drew E F Five, a four-time stakes winner at Arapahoe. The race will be his first since last August. E F Five’s initial stakes objective this meet is the $35,000 Aspen on June 15, said his trainer, Butch Gleason.

Gleason was the leading Thoroughbred trainer at Arapahoe last year. He said he has 31 horses on the grounds for the new meet. Also back for the new season is Russell Vicchrilli, the winner of the last four riding titles in Aurora who leads a colony that includes newcomer Brian Theriot.

“I think it’s really going to be a good meet,” Gleason said. “Everything’s upbeat.”

Arapahoe now has new offtrack betting facilities, one located in downtown Denver and the other in Greeley, Colo.

The Gold Rush Futurity, which is run over six furlongs, has grown in stature the past few years. Last season, the Gleason-trained Get Happy Mister won the race to put the wraps on a perfect 4-for-4 season in Arapahoe. Gleason sent him to Oaklawn Park and trainer Kelly Von Hemel on behalf of owners Tangarae Farms, and the horse won the $100,000 Northern Spur. Gleason said Get Happy Mister is currently based at Prairie Meadows, with Von Hemel.

Purses at the meet are projected to average $110,000 a card, according to Bill Powers, the plant manager of Arapahoe. The figure is the same as last season. Other highlights of the stakes schedule include the $50,000 Arapahoe Park Classic for 3-year-olds and up at a mile and an eighth Aug. 11.

Horowitz said Arapahoe has hired a new community event coordinator, Cathy Chavez, to help drive ontrack attendance. Handle on Arapahoe’s races has been up each of the last three years, said Horowitz.

ALLAN JOHNSON More than 1 year ago
With the demise of almost all of the tracks in Nebraska, except Fonner Park in Grand Island, and the still shuttered Yavapai Downs, summer home of Arizona racing near Prescott, Arapahoe has the opportunity to become a very important stop for the horsemen of those states and, of course, Colorado. A much longer meet woiuld have plenty of racing stock and one would think a metro area of several million could support additional racing days.