Arizona Downs Opens Racing Season

Arizona Downs near Prescott Valley has announced its return to live horse racing, effective June 1. Races will begin at 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays through Sept. 15, Steve Peterson, track spokesman, said. The track will open earlier on race days for those who want to eat or have beverages.

Arizona Downs is east of Prescott Valley at 10501 E. AZ-89A. Parking is free.

The track is managed by Michael Weiss, longtime horseracing industry leader with deep ties to Arizona racetracks. Weiss most recently was the general manager of Rillito Park Racetrack in Tucson.

A former student at the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Weiss is well-known for pioneering that educational program. He also serves as a career adviser for program graduates.

“I am excited at the opportunity to contribute to efforts to save Arizona horse racing,” Weiss said. “It truly is worth saving. I look forward to rebuilding Arizona Downs and assembling a safe environment for horsemen. I also want a memorable experience for fans.”

Arizona Downs is one of two major horse racing tracks in Arizona. The other is Turf Paradise in Phoenix.

Arizona Downs features a combination of quarter horse and thoroughbred racing. It is owned by JACOR, whose managing member is Tom Auther.

Reopening of Arizona Downs is coming at a critical time in Arizona horse racing history. The Legislature has approved a bill to modernize wagering at horse tracks and off-track betting (OTB) sites that allows tracks and the broader agribusiness and racing industry to generate money after races and on nonrace days.

In Yavapai County, benefits could amount to up to $1 million in new local tax revenues and 400 new jobs, according to case studies.

Prescott Valley Mayor Kell Palguta issued a statement endorsing Arizona Downs. Noting that tourism was a major economic factor in the community, Palguta said he and other town leaders viewed Arizona Downs as a major attraction and asset for businesses and families.

“Horse racing has been an important industry in Arizona since statehood. Arizona Downs is a part of our history. As we continue to grow and thrive, we also must modernize the industries that are at our core,” he said.

Palguta said he thought approval of historic horse racing, or wagering on video game machines which then play races that have already been run, would add significantly to local and state tax revenues and help generate needed new jobs for rural Arizona.

More details are available at www.arizonadowns.com or by calling 928-227-1996.