ALBUQUERQUE – Another season of live thoroughbred and quarter horse racing in the state of New Mexico gets underway this week when the Downs at Albuquerque opens Thursday for a 35-day season.
Opening day of the season will be highlighted by the first of three Marathon Claiming Stakes races, with a guaranteed purse of $20,000. The series consists of three races for older thoroughbreds racing at various distances, ranging from a mile to a mile and a quarter. The series continues with the $25,000 Billy Powell Claiming Stakes on Saturday, Oct. 7 and concludes with the Con Jackson Claiming Stakes, held on closing day Sunday, Oct. 29.
Among the meet’s highlight races this season will be the Grade 1, $350,000 Downs at Albuquerque Fall Quarter Horse Championship, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 15.
Danjer captured the Fall Championship last year under jockey Francisco Calderon, who is one of the top riders on the quarter horse scene this season at Ruidoso Downs, which wraps up its season on Monday.
The Downs at Albuquerque will celebrate its 85th season of live racing. The track opened on Oct. 9, 1938. This season’s added purse money distribution in stakes races will top more than $2.6 million.
“It’s an exciting time here,” said Albuquerque Downs racing secretary Jim Collins. “We’ve got an overflow of horses coming in from all across the southwest on the backstretch, and it’s really good to see how the state of racing in New Mexico has really bounced back in the past couple of years.
In addition to the $350,000 Downs at Albuquerque Fall QH Championship, the track will host the Grade 2 New Mexico State Fair Quarter Horse Futurity, with a guaranteed purse of $500,000 that will likely top $1 million.
“There’s already a large number of horses which have nominated for the Futurity, so that’s exciting to see as well,” Collins said. “The state breeding and racing industry has really come around well for that race.”
Friday’s opening featured contest, the first round of the Claiming Stakes Series, features a field of 12 entrants, led by Kirk Sutherland’s Surprisinglyperfect, a 15-time winner from 69 lifetime starts with earnings of more than $230,000. The 9-year-old Kentucky-bred is still looking for his first win in 2023 and is coming off a fourth-place finish in his most recent start July 29 at Canterbury Downs in Shakopee, Minn.
Listed as the 5-to-2 morning line favorite, Surprisinglyperfect is trained by Jose Silva Jr., and will be ridden by Enrique Garcia. The race is the fourth of a nine-race program and has a scheduled post time of 7:20 p.m.
Post times and race dates vary from week to week at Albuquerque Downs, with first post either at 1:30 p.m. or under the lights at 6:05 p.m. Fans can watch and wager on the races from Albuquerque Downs at SunRay Park and Casino. Check out their official website at abqdowns.com for post times and information on the racing schedule.
For information on the upcoming season of live racing at the Downs at Albuquerque, including results and entries, check out their official page at equibase.com.