05/22/2008 12:00AM

Diverse group fills barns for meeting


Stables from all over have converged on Colorado for the state's lone race meet, which opens Saturday. Arapahoe Park in Aurora will run 36 days for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses through Aug. 10, and its first program drew horses who last raced in Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

"We do get a mix," said Bill Powers, the plant manager of Arapahoe. "I think that would characterize our meet."

Arapahoe has drawn some new faces while retaining stables from trainers like Jon Arnett, who won 13 races at the track over its Memorial Day weekend opener last year before going on to win the training title. Travis Wales, who teams with Arnett on several horses Saturday, is back to defend his riding title. Other trainers on hand include John Hammes, the leading Quarter Horse trainer last year at Arapahoe, Butch Gleason, and Temple Rushton.

"I'm anticipating our field size will be up," Powers said. "We've allotted more stalls than we did last year."

Powers said all 1,500 stalls at Arapahoe have been allotted for the meet. Last year, there were 1,100 horses on the grounds. Stuart Slagle, the racing secretary at the Downs at Albuquerque in 2007, is the new racing secretary at Arapahoe. He said he expects more horses to ship into the track in the next week.

"We are also looking toward the end of June to possibly see another wave of horses come in here when the New Mexico tracks take a short summer hiatus," Slagle said.

Purses will average $65,000 a day, with 20 stakes scheduled for Thoroughbreds. The richest of them is the $30,000 Gold Rush Futurity, a six-furlong race for 2-year-olds to be run Aug. 10. It will share a card with the Grade 2, $125,000 Mile High Futurity for Quarter Horses. The Mile High is one of nine stakes for Quarter Horses.

Arapahoe will race every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The lone exception is this weekend, when the track races on Memorial Day Monday. First post is 1 p.m. Mountain.