05/24/2017 3:26PM

Trials for Ruidoso Futurity, Ruidoso Derby on opening weekend

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Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico opens on Friday for a full weekend of trials for two of its major stakes for Quarter Horses. The 52-date season will run through Sept. 4. The meet, which also features Thoroughbreds, builds to the closing-day running of the $3 million All American Futurity for Quarter Horses.

The first step to the classic is the Grade 1, $1 million Ruidoso Futurity on June 11. There will be 26 trials for the finale, with 13 on Friday and another 13 on Saturday. The horses with the five fastest times from each card will advance to the Ruidoso Futurity.

The action Sunday revolves around 12 trials for the Grade 1, $1 million Ruidoso Derby on June 10. The program features an appearance by Imperial Eagle, the winner of last year’s All American Futurity who will launch his 3-year-old campaign in the fourth race.

The other Grade 1 stakes for Quarter Horses at Ruidoso are the $1.2 million Rainbow Derby on July 22; the $1 million Rainbow Futurity on July 23; the $1.5 million All American Derby and $200,000 All American Gold Cup, both Sept. 3; and the All American Futurity on Sept. 4.

Trials for the All American Futurity will be held Aug. 18-19.

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Ruidoso will race Fridays through Sundays most weeks, with three Monday cards planned, including Memorial Day. Post time for most cards will be 1 p.m. Mountain.

Ruidoso’s patrons will be greeted by new box seats on the lower level of the grandstand, while additional material has been added to the racing surface.

Following the meet, the track could have new ownership. Ruidoso announced in April that five prominent Quarter Horse owners and breeders have signed a letter of intent to purchase the track from owner R.D. Hubbard. The deal could close in the final quarter of 2017. Those signing the letter intent were John Andreini, Narisco Flores, Gary McKinney, Stan Sigman, and Johnny Trotter.