05/22/2013 3:27PM

Ruidoso Downs: Meet to offer record purses for All American Futurity and Derby

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Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico will have record purses for its most important Quarter Horse stakes at its 60-date mixed meet that opens Friday. The season continues through Labor Day, Sept. 2.

The All American Derby will be worth $2.8 million when it is run at Ruidoso on Sept. 1, making the 440-yard dash the richest Quarter Horse race ever offered. Last year, the All American Derby was worth $2.2 million. Trials for this year’s All American Derby are Aug. 16.

The second richest race on Ruidoso’s calendar this meet is the All American Futurity, which will be worth $2.6 million when the 440-yard classic is renewed Sept. 2. Trials for the race will be held on Aug. 15.

The All American Derby and the All American Futurity give Ruidoso the distinction of being the lone track in North America with two races worth $2.5 million or more (not counting Breeders’ Cup races), according to Ruidoso.

Other upgrades to the track’s Quarter Horse stakes calendar include purse boosts to both the Rainbow Derby and Rainbow Futurity, which will each be worth $1 million when renewed in July. In addition, the Ruidoso Derby, worth $800,000, and the Ruidoso Futurity, worth $750,000, will feature record purses when they are renewed in June.

Trials for the Ruidoso Futurity will be run on Friday, and with 25 heats scheduled there will be a special first post of 10 a.m. Mountain. In all, 245 horses are set to compete for the 10 spots in the gate for the June 9 finale. Trials for the Ruidoso Derby are Saturday, and those seeking to qualify for the June 8 finale include champion PJ Chick in Black.

For the new meet, Ruidoso’s racing surface has undergone some work.

“We ripped and tilled the track to get moisture down in the track, and added about 1,000 tons of material,” said Les Nichols, vice president of Ruidoso.

Returning to Ruidoso after a gap of almost 20 years is trainer Bubba Cascio, a member of the American Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame whose May 10 starter at Remington Park was his first Quarter Horse runner since 1994. He had been training Thoroughbreds.

Cascio said he has a few more horses to run at Remington, then he will be settled in at Ruidoso with a 10-horse division. He said the group of 2-year-olds he is bringing is for JoAnn Adams, for whom he trained Rocket Wrangler, a champion and the winner of the 1970 All American Futurity.

“I think we’ve got one or two nice colts,” Cascio said.