Monday morning it was announced by Ruidoso Downs Race Track President and General Manager, Shaun Hubbard, on local radio that a letter of intent is in place (within the last 24 hours) to purchase the racecourse by five ardent horsemen. The sale must be authorized by the New Mexico Racing Commission before being finalized. All concerned, are hopeful the deal will be approved in the fourth quarter of 2017.
The five proposed owners are: retired AT & T President and CEO Stan Sigman; Johnny Trotter; Gary McKinney; Narcisco (Chicho) Flores (all four from Texas) and John Andreini (of California). The considered sale also includes the esteemed Ruidoso Horse Sale Company. Reportedly, the above-mentioned individuals will be equal partners.
Hubbard maintained the new prospective owners share the same dedication and motivation that guided R.D. Hubbard (and later his grandson, Shaun) over the last three decades. The elder Hubbard (now 81) purchased the then financially troubled racetrack in 1988, along with Dr. Ed Allred (owner of Los Alamitos Race Course), and instituted $2.5 million in renovations. By the next year, gate receipts were up. Hubbard later purchased Allred’s interest in the facility.
The R.D. and Joan Dale Hubbard Foundation contributed millions of dollars in grants, plus hundreds of college scholarships southeastern individuals and organizations. The Foundation is dedicated to education, the arts and humanities. Both people were former teachers. Beside the various properties he owns in the Ruidoso area, he also invested his own money outside the track in Tularosa on a 320-acre horse farm for New Mexico-bred horses – Crystal Springs Farm.
When asked what intrigues him about horseracing Hubbard replied, “There’s nothing more exciting to me. There are always lots of high … and needless to say, lows.”
The Ruidoso Downs Race Track has come a long way from its origins when it was known as “Mr. Miller’s cornfield.” On Sept. 1, 1957, four nominated horses actually started in the Southwestern Futurity, which was the precursor to the venerable All American Futurity (in 1959). In the former race, a 2-year-old gelding came across the line first and collected $19,700. That prize was the largest single check ever collected by any Quarter Horse at the time. During Hubbard’s stewardship, the All American Futurity G1 went from a $2 million purse in 1989 to $3 million in 2016.
The Ruidoso Downs Race Track has been a heavy draw to thousands of visitors who not only spend money at the racecourse but also at restaurants, hotels, local shops, food stores and for automotive necessities.