Smith said Justify was very “professional” in his big win at Belmont.
Two hours north of Las Cruces is not only an escape from the heat, but a chance to watch some of the best race horses dash down the track at lightning speed at Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino.
For fans of the sport of horse racing, hometown hero, New Mexico native and recent Triple Crown-winning jockey Mike Smith will make an appearance at Ruidoso Downs on Sunday, July 8.
“Mike is a global celebrity now and we are honored by his willingness to come to Ruidoso Downs to share his Triple Crown celebration with us,” Ruidoso Downs’ president and general manager Jeff True said in a news release. “He is a wonderful ambassador of our sport and he never forgets where he came from.”
Smith rode the horse named Justify to win this year’s Kentucky Derby, Preakness States and the Belmont Stakes. Justify became the 13th Triple Crown winner and at age 52, Smith became the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown.
Born in Roswell, New Mexico, Smith was raised on a farm outside of Dexter, New Mexico and by age 11, he was riding in match races. He gained his jockey’s license in 1982 and rode in the Midwestern circuit, New York circuit and is now riding on the Southern California circuit.
Smith was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 2003, and has earned $313 million with nearly 5,500 wins. He has two Kentucky Derby wins, two Preakness Stakes wins, three Belmont Stakes wins and a record 26 Breeders’ Cup wins.
Smith’s appearance at Ruidoso Downs will aid the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund with proceeds from posters and autographs going to the fund. Custom-made posters of Smith will be on sale beginning at 11 a.m. Smith will be at the east end of the grandstand to sign autographs.
Smith will also lead the post parade for the seventh race.
Ruidoso Downs has been a place for quarter horse racing enthusiasts for more than 60 years. This year’s racing season runs through Sept. 5, with 9 to 13 races most Fridays through Sundays.
“Ruidoso is a great place to cool off,” said Ty Wyant, Ruidoso Downs media relations director and Racehorse Hall of Fame curator. “It’s a wonderful, special experience with generations of families returning every year — especially when it gets hot.”
Admission is generally free unless there is a special event, and races are usually between 1 to 5 p.m. Races include about 7 to 10 horses and last about one to two minutes with a break of 20 minutes in between, giving visitors a chance to place bets and grab snacks at concessions or a meal at one of the three restaurants — All American Turf Club, Billy’s Race Book and Billy’s Sports Bar and Grill. Ruidoso Downs also has simulcast racing, airing races at the nation’s premier tracks.
While guests who are 18 and older may bet on horse racing, those who are 21 and older also have the option to peruse more than 300 slots at the Billy the Kid Casino.
And for history buffs of horse racing, the Ruidoso Downs Racehorse Hall of Fame has an extensive collection of racing memorabilia and racing history. Interactive kiosks present some of the greatest races and stories in racing history, as well as information on each of the members of the Hall of Fame. The Ruidoso Downs Racehorse Hall of Fame inductees are people and horses who have had a profound impact on their sport. Every year only one owner/breeder, one trainer, one jockey and one horse are enshrined. Admission to the Hall of Fame is free.
Cassie McClure is a freelance writer and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
What: Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino
Where: 26225 U.S. Highway 70, Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico
When: The racing season ends on Sept. 5
Cost: General admission is free aside from special event weekends. Check the Ruidoso Downs website to see if any fees apply.
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