Two local horse owners had their horses running at the horse races that were held May 18-19 the Cochise County Fairgrounds.
Douglas firefighter Eric Valenzuela, husband to Dominique Valenzuela, general manager of the Cochise County Fairgrounds, had a horse, Captain Mazurk, finish second in the sixth race on Saturday. His other horse, Peaceful Bono, finished fourth on Sunday in the final race of the day.
The Pinedo family of Pirtleville, well known throughout the horse racing business, had horses running at in four of the 12 races that were held.
Three of the horses ran Sunday; the other ran Saturday. Two of the horses won their respective races, another placed second and the other finished fourth.
“It’s an honor to be here,” Renee Pinedo, grandson to Felipe D. Pinedo, said after the last race on Sunday, May 19. “This is the hometown of where my father grew up. It’s a pleasure to be out here and see so much support from our family and friends. … You get the full experience when you run here in Douglas. You experience everything here at this track. There is so much history, so many memories here; it’s like no other race track in the state. Quarter horse racing started here. It’s a pleasure for me and my family to be here.”
Sunday’s fifth race was actually called The “Felipe D. Pinedo” Memorial and was won by a Pinedo owned horse called “Pirteviille Cartel”.
According to local historian Cindy Hayostek, Felipe Pinedo started the international race where one horse from the U.S. would race a horse from Mexico. Pinedo was the owner of the American horse, named Chiltepin, but he was called Rex in Douglas Dispatch publicity for the race, in the famous border race against El Relampago that was owned by Agua Prieta businessman Rafael Romero.
“Then as now, the Pinedo’s lived in Pirtleville and had race horses,” she said. “Felipe had a 3-year-old he wanted to race against El Relampago.”
Hayostek said that border race was held on Sept. 14, 1958 in the vicinity of today’s Lion’s Club in Agua Prieta. The Lion’s Clubs on both sides provided arrangements and were recipient of the proceeds.
“There were three races,” she said. “(The) Mexican horses won two. Relampago won by three-quarters of a length. Chiltepin turned into a good roping horse, they say. Relampago stayed a race horse to the end of his days.”
Daniel Pinedo, Renee’s father, says he has six brothers and all of them are involved in horse racing.
“Winning today’s race is really special,” he said after the race. “This track is very special to us; Douglas is very special to us.”
Valenzuela estimates 2,500 people attended the two days of racing. While the numbers are not as high as she would have liked, she is pleased with how smoothly things went and already looking ahead to next year, possibly running on different dates however.
“I’m hoping next year we can do it earlier where it won’t conflict with any other events,” she said. “We got a lot of good comments from the state (racing officials). They want to come back next year.”
Valenzuela says the second day of racing had only five races. That was because a number of horses were heading to Prescott where Arizona Downs was opening.
“It went well overall,” she said. “We got a lot of support from local trainers and people in Tucson and Phoenix. We even had a jockey come from Farmington, NM that rode in the Pinedo race on Sunday. … We ended up getting a lot more support than I thought we would.”
Following the fifth race on Sunday there were pony races that entertained the crowd. On Saturday, in between the third and fourth race, there were stick races for the kids where they raced each other and competed for prizes. The stick races were sponsored by: Loretta Brasher and the Arizona Quarter Racing Association and the Arizona Council of Race Track Chaplaincy of America.