80 years of racing kicks off at Rillito Park Racetrack

Spectators return for another season of horse racing in Tucson
80 years of racing kicks off at Rillito Park Racetrack
Published: Feb. 5, 2023 at 11:09 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -Thousands of people took to the stands as Rillito Park Racetrack opened its gates for their 2023 winter season of horse racing.

Saturday, marked the 80th year for the track and quarter horse racing.

“This is our 80th year anniversary and I am really excited about that. There aren’t too many places that can say they have been here 80 years and mean it,” said Michael Weiss, general manager of Rillito Park Racetrack. “We’ve got a lot to celebrate and a lot of fun to look forward to.”

Opening day brought out a mix of life-long supporters and brand new fans looking to experience horse racing for the first time. Throughout the day, fans had the opportunity to watch and place bets on eight races, four quarter horses and four thoroughbreds.

While not everyone walked away a winner, the atmosphere and good company among fellow fans made up for the loss.

“We love it. Every time we come out, we think oh my god we are so happy that so many more people come so that way it can make it go longer,” said spectator Thamara Ramirez.

Many life-long fans in attendance also found more reason to celebrate as the track and quarter horse racing celebrate a milestone anniversary. In 1943, Rillito Park opened, creating a space for the first sanctioned quarter horse racing in the country to occur.

For many veteran spectators, they are grateful that organizers have continued to keep the doors open and horse racing in Tucson going.

“Well I am glad they keep the tradition going each year. There is always talk about how they are going to shut it down, but they kept it going which is pretty good,” said veteran spectator Miguel Canez.

While the season is just starting, fans can expect plenty of new changes to celebrate the park’s 80th anniversary. In addition to the races, the track plans to hold different events every weekend.

Weiss added there will be increased purses, a new gift shop, and entertainment between races.

“We are going to mark this 80th year and try to make everyday special,” said Weiss.

Races will take place every Saturday and Sunday from now until April 2, 2023.

For more information on how to attend a race visit rillitoracetrack.com