I didn't want to sit home on a three day weekend so I asked my mom if she wanted to take a trip south to Ruidoso Downs to see the running of the richest Quarter Horse race in the world. Neither one of us had ever seen it before and I thought, 'how crazy, we LIVE so close!'
We took off Monday morning in my Infiniti FX45, Lola. Originally, my younger son was coming along but then he couldn't because he had to work on his friend's car. My older son had to go to work so he was out of the picture and then my daughter said she was going to come along since she had gone with us to the horse races in Phoenix, in February. She got up very early and went to crew for the hot air balloons first and was planning on meeting us at 8:00 in town, on our way through. However, there were balloon launch problems and they ended up aborting the flights. A wind blew one of the balloon envelopes sideways as it was inflating and they had to untangle it from another balloon. No one was hurt but as they backed up the van to load everything they got it stuck in mud. So, she called me and told me to go on without her because she had no idea how long it was going to take. It's too bad we didn't stick around because everything was quickly resolved and she was ready to go by 9:15. Oh well, we were already on the highway heading south. It's about a 3 1/2 hour trip and we were running late by now, because we had taken the long way through Albuquerque instead of just heading south on the back roads.
Originally, we had intended to find a letterbox or two in Capitan as it was along the way but when it got to be around 11:00 we figured we better keep on going to Ruidoso Downs. Post time was 12:00 and we didn't mind missing the first couple of races because the BIG one is later in the day, but I figured it was going to be crowded.
However, I had no idea how crowded it really was! We got to the racetrack about 12:30 and the parking lots were all full with a long line of cars still going in.
The Lincoln County Sheriff's Posse was helping park cars. I showed them my handicap parking pass (for my mom) and asked if we could go through. She laughed and said the handicap, valet, and every other kind of parking was full hours ago. Only if we had a turf club pass could we could get through. Only the turf club pass is $25,000!
We had a close-up view of the starting gate and the horses as they rode by.
We had fold up chairs, drinks, and snacks. However, no bathroom! And by this time we both felt kind of needy. Uh oh!
Here's a close up view of some of the crowds.
I went back over to the car to discuss the options with my mom and a guy in a golf cart drove up asking if we wanted to be shuttled to the top of the hill to the shuttle busses. We said yes. My mom got in the front with her walker folded up in front of her and I hung on to the back. What a ride! This is at the top of the hill. My car is way down the hill and around the corner.
At the top of the hill, we got in line for the shuttles, a school bus and a small van. They loaded at the same time but we didn't get on either one. We were third and fourth in line when the bus filled up. We did catch the next shuttle however and were taken to the racetrack. As we were unloading, people were waiting to get back on to go back to their cars. It was so crowded they didn't want to stay. We thought, "uh oh!" We decided to go to the bathroom and then maybe go back to the car too.
After waiting in line (of course!) for the bathroom, we decided to stay. I parked my mom on her walker seat in front of one of the many televisions and walked around. There were lots and lots of people but, as it is with a racetrack, the people were milling around. Some were outside at the rail or in the grandstands, inside getting drinks, liquor, and food, everywhere, but fortunately, not all in one place. I placed a bet and went down to the rail to watch.
I was able to get right up on the rail in spite of all the folding chairs and people and watched the race.
One thing I didn't like at this racetrack is how far away the paddocks are. You can see them in the background but they are too far away to really look at the horses and see how they are reacting to being saddled. Some horses get so nervous they wear out before the race.
That's how it went during the day. I would watch the race, walk back over to my mom and we would discuss the last race and the horses in the next one, pick the one(s) to bet on for the next race, place the bet, and go watch at the rail. It worked out well. She was content to sit and watch the races on the screen and watch the people walk by. I was happy to be down by the rail, although I'm sure she saw the race better than I did.
Quarter horse races are short and fast. Some are only 250 yard dashes. It's hard to tell who wins sometimes. We saw several photo finishes. Thoroughbred races were also being run throughout the day. They are usually 6 - 12 furlongs (a furlong is 1/8 of a mile). We noticed a few Thoroughbreds running with the Quarter Horses. I didn't know that was allowed?? I guess those are the ones with jackrabbit starts and no staying power.
There is about 30 minutes between each race so there is plenty of time to explore: look at the horses in the paddock as they are saddling, watch them walk by onto the track, see them warming up in the distance, discuss the odds, place your bet, and watch as they begin loading into the starting gate. We placed a bet on most of the races and didn't do very well. On a two horse exacta box (both horses must come in first or second, we seemed to pick the first and third or second and third horses. If we bet to win, they placed second or third. On the seventh race, my mom wanted the #2 horse. When I placed my bet, she gave me a ticket for the #7 horse to win. I was going to tell her the error and then I just decided to place another bet. I won $5 on the mistake! My mom's horse came in third.
One race, I didn't place the bet she had suggested and that horse won. We would have gotten $9. Oh well!
Here's a self portrait of my mom and I.
I like this photo of the horses breaking out of the gate.
The BIG race was the 10th race but this is getting to be such a long post that I will continue in another post...
She wants the Young American - song: Young Americans, artist: David Bowie, album: Young Americans