Six Things to Know About Ruidoso Downs |

If you’re a fan of horse racing and placing a bet, Ruidoso Downs in Southern New Mexico is the place to go! Ruidoso Downs Racetrack and Casino is a popular destination for those who love to cheer on equine athletes as they race for the finish line. You can also enjoy some casino action and a delicious meal while you’re there. Best of all, Ruidoso Downs is located in the beautiful Sierra Blanca mountains, an area that draws visitors from New Mexico, Texas, and beyond, some of whom decide to call Ruidoso home (see great listings by clicking here!).


Here are six things to know about Ruidoso Downs Race Track

Horse racing is one of the many activities you can enjoy at Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico.
Horse racing is one of the many activities you can enjoy at Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico.

1. What types of races are held at Ruidoso Downs?

Ruidoso Downs is home to both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing, most notably the All American Futurity, which experts consider the “richest race” in the American Quarter Horse realm and the richest race for two-year-olds of any breed. Ruidoso Downs bills itself as “The Home of the $8 Million Quarter Horse Triple Crown.” Quarter Horses earned their names by being the fastest horse around for the quarter-mile sprint.

2. What is the racing season at Ruidoso Downs?

The Ruidoso Downs schedule offers live racing on weekends typically from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The season comes to an exciting climax with the All American Futurity on Labor Day weekend. Plus, you can place your bets on races from all around the country at the Race Book during the off-season.


3. Can you gamble at Ruidoso Downs?

Billy the Kid Casino is open daily in the Ruidoso Downs Racetrack and Casino complex. With more than 300 gaming machines, there are plenty from which to choose. They’ve recently added electronic gaming, ranging from low-stakes to high-limit slots.

With a $5 buy-in, Billy’s Shootout Six Handicapping Contest happens every Thursday at the Race Book and has a different selection of tracks and races each month. The Race Book is a more intimate space with food and bar service within Ruidoso Downs. Another perk is the casino rewards club, free for individuals 21 years of age and older, which allows you to earn points for free play opportunities and even discounts at the track.


4. What terminology do you need to know to bet on horse races?

Here are the phrases you want to know when placing your bet.

  • Win: Your horse must come in the first position.
  • Place: Your horse must come in first or second position.
  • Show: Your horse must come in first, second, or third position.
  • Across the board: Win, place, or show for a single horse on one ticket.
  • Exacta: First two horses in the exact order.
  • Exacta box: First two horses in any order.
  • Trifecta: First three horses in exact order.
  • Trifecta box: First three horses in any order.
  • Superfecta: First four horses in exact order.

Note that all these designations are according to the official results of the order of finish.

A more advanced player may elect to place a permutation bet in the form of an exacta, trifecta, or superfecta; in other words, selecting more than one horse in a race and possibly increasing your chance of winning. Watch for the official results, as only then can you cash in your ticket with a teller or use the self-service window to claim your winnings (it doesn’t hurt to double-check even if you think you lost).

Also bear in mind that, at Ruidoso Downs, live race betting offers what is called a “pool bet.” This means the betting stakes on a given race are pooled and paid out similar to a lottery, with winnings shared among customers with winning tickets.


5. What’s the most luxurious way to enjoy the races at The Downs?

Be sure to check out the luxury experience at the Jockey Club. A private membership guarantees, according to the website, “exclusive viewing at the heart of the action with premium drinks and dining.” You can join or even get single-day passes (limitations apply).


6. What else happens at Ruidoso Downs?

Ruidoso Downs isn’t just about horse races and gambling! The Downs is a popular venue for concerts and events like the Zia Festival and the Chile the Kid Festival. Plus, you can enjoy weekend dining at 440 Smokehouse and Anejo Cantina. Brendan’s at the Jockey Club is open to the public for fine dining Friday and Saturday evenings from September through May.

If you’re wondering about the dress code, other than at the exclusive Jockey Club, weekend casual is just fine.

If you think Ruidoso is the place you’d like to call home, either all year or seasonally, click the links to find home listings and luxury vacation rentals.


Story by Desiree Bustamantes and Cheryl Fallstead


This story sponsored by

Pinnacle Real Estate logo

Call Scott: 575-937-3166

Call Deanna: 806-717-0308

Posted by

Featured Businesses