TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Sound the bugle because quarter-horse racing returns to Tucson this weekend.
Saturday, Feb. 8, will be opening day for Rillito Park’s Winter Meet 2020. The historic park, and birthplace of quarter horse racing, has hosted events for seven decades. Jaye Wells, president of the Rillito Park Foundation, said staff still gets excited ahead of a new season.
“Everybody’s kind of green around the gills at 8 a.m.... but then, by the end of the day, everybody kind of knows their place,” he said with a smile.
All but one of the eight races scheduled for Saturday will have a full chute of eight horses, according to Wells. He said it’s the fullest field for an opening day that he can remember. This season is extended by a weekend, because Wells said there was a demand for it from fans and the American Quarter-Horse Association award Rillito Park Racetrack with two regional races.
The Bank of America 440 Challenge is set for Saturday, March 21. The John Deere Juvenile will close out the season on Sunday, March 22.
There are plenty of events planned on and off the track between opening day and closing weekend. The Budweiser Clydesdales will visit the park the weekend of Feb. 29 and March 1. The following weekend will bring 2009 Kentucky Derby Winner Mine the Bird. The 50-1 long shot and his owners will meet with folks in a fundraising effort.
Wells said the appearance will benefit the on-going partnership the park has with the University of Arizona and its interns.
"They play an instrumental part in that and we're proud of that, he said. "What's really rewarding is you see some of these students that graduate and they were interns here and now they're in some of the top positions in the racing industry all over the world."
Post time on Saturday, and each race day for the next seven weekends, will be 1:30 p.m. Gates open at 10 a.m. General admission is $5 while clubhouse tickets will cost you $10.