Horse racing is returning to the Cochise County Fairgrounds.
Bruce Whetten/Douglas Dispatch Horse racing will return to the Cochise County Fairgrounds April 10-11. Fairground officials are hoping to have 10 races each day among those being the El Moro de Cumpas trials, the Sonoita Derby trials and the John Ray Memorial. Gates will open at noon each day with races starting at 1 p.m.
Strongin said the dates she was given were April 10-11.
“We plan to have a nice variety of Thoroughbred and Quarter horse races,” she said. “The track has been maintained and we’re excited to be able to bring the races back to Douglas this year.”
The El Moro de Cumpas trials will be held in Douglas that weekend with the finals to be in Sonoita for the second straight year. The Sonoita Derby Trials will also take place in Douglas as will the John Ray Memorial.
Strongin is hoping to have at least 10 races each of the two days.
With the economic situation the way it is there will be no increase in the price of the admission or the cost of the programs.
A St. Patrick’s Day dance is scheduled for this Saturday (March 20) from 8 p.m. to midnight. Money raised will be used for the upcoming horse races. There will be door prizes and green beer. Tickets are $5.
“This board is determined to continue onward with all the traditions we have here,” Strongin said. “We’re like everybody else … in a funding crunch.”
Kingman has cancelled its horse races this year and Safford is running just one weekend like Douglas.
Safford will run this March 20-21, then Strongin said there will be no races the next two weekends.
Douglas will have its races; there will be no racing April 17-18 with Sonoita running April 24-25 and May 1-2 which is Kentucky Derby weekend.
Strongin says what happened last year was beyond her on anyone’s on the boards control and they would have loved to have had the horse races but with the timing of the state budget cuts that was just not possible.
“Our legislators are working really hard for us,” she said. “They don’t want to see this go away either. … They just had to wait and see what kind of funding was going to be available for the fourth quarter period.
“We want to race, we will race but we had to wait to hear from the state as to if any funds were going to be available to help us put on these races. We weren’t sure if there was going to be any funding at all.”
Some of the money from the state is also purse money, Strongin said.
The fairgrounds manager said she met individually which each of our state representatives and explained to them how important this event is for this area and they were able to come through for her this year.
“This event is very important for this area,” she said. “People around here really like the races and look forward to us having them each year. … But it takes a lot of money to put this on.”
Some horses are already starting to work out on the track. Strongin expects most of them to arrive around April 1.
Strongin says she is also looking for race sponsors and volunteers.
“If anybody in the community wants to volunteer to help do something out here and they don’t have a criminal background, we would love to hear from them,” she said.