Zia Festival Weekend

Prominent Zia Festival Weekend Takes Center Stage

The much-anticipated, Zia Festival Weekend at Ruidoso Downs Race Track will take place July 28th, 29th, 30th. As always, parking and general admission are free. If you had plans this summer to visit the renowned racecourse this three-day celebration could be the perfect outing for you and your family. There be 13 dominant stakes races pounding down the Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred tracks featuring mostly New Mexico-bred horses.

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A wide selection of wares, such as pantry items, will be available on Zia weekend. Courtesy photo.

Sunday, two major Quarter Horse races will be at the forefront – the $176,000 (est.) 10-horse Zia Derby (Grade II) will leave the gates at approximately 3:10 p.m. and a short time later (at about 4:54 p.m.) the $400,000 (est.), 10-horse Zia Futurity (Grade I) will commence. Both influential races will cover a distance of 400-yards in under 20 seconds. The first race on Sunday will start at 1 p.m., so you might want to come early. Therefore you may want to plan on browsing your way through the multitude of merchant booths offering artwork, jewelry, and glassware on one days prior.

Vendors and Additional Activities

In addition to the races, 55 “Land of Enchantment” vendors will be on hand present during the festival. 12 of the vendors will be stationed in the grandstand pavilion. However, the bulk of the vendors (43) will be in a commercial tent just east of the casino.In addition to the previously mentioned wares, Vendors will also carry fruit, women’s clothing, furniture and various other items. Furthermore, there will be multiple family friendly free activities as well.  Face painting, slides, balloons and a “bouncy” room will all be available. Food will be widespread and prevalent.

According to the encyclopedic memory of Ruidoso Downs Race Track Publicist Ty Wyant, “The Zia Festival Weekend could have begun as the result of the Zia Quarter Horse Handicap first run in 1970 and the Zia Quarter Horse Futurity, which began in 1991.” Both races, as well as the Derby and the majority of stakes race over the weekend, give prominence to New Mexico-bred racehorses.

“The Zia weekend spotlights New Mexico state-bred horses and they deserve it,” Ruidoso Downs Race Track Vice-President of Marketing Tim Keithley explained. “We, and the vendors, will attempt to decorate the area with the primary colors of the New Mexico state flag. The horse racing industry is important to the state economy and the five tracks here attest to that. If you only come to this racecourse once a year, the Zia Festival would be the time to attend. It’s a family affair and presents the best New Mexico-bred horses as well as some of the finest art this state’s craftsmen produce.”

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Maybe fine jewelry is your thing. For that and other distinctive goods visit the vendors in the grandstand pavilion and in the commercial tent beside the casino. Courtesy photo.

Additional Information

Additionally, the well-known Billy the Kid Casino and restaurants, along with the popular Turf Club await your wants and needs. For further information you may call the Ruidoso Downs Race Track Event Coordinator Kana Laymon at 575-937-1734 pertaining to vendor questions. For questions pertaining to the races and other events you may go here.

—Michael Curran