The 2017 stakes schedule at Arapahoe Park in Colorado will culminate with the richest races the track hosts for Thoroughbreds and American Quarter Horses on the final day of the season, but the road to those races will look different than in past years.
The 39-day racing season beginning on May 19 will conclude on August 13 with the Gold Rush Futurity for Thoroughbreds and the Arapahoe Park Quarter Horse Futurity. With estimated purses of $100,000 for both races, they will be the richest of the 31 stakes races—19 for Thoroughbreds and 12 for Quarter Horses—worth a total of $1.1 million that the Aurora, Colorado track hosts in 2017. There will be no Arabian racing at Arapahoe Park in 2017, although there is the possibility of its returning in future years with a rise in the breed’s racing population.
The Gold Rush Futurity for 2-year-olds over six furlongs has become a starting point early in the careers of some of the most talented horses ever to race at Arapahoe Park. Since 2011, two winners—Chips All In in 2011 and Texas Chrome in 2015—have gone on to be the first horses that have raced in Colorado to compete in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Chips All In ran in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and Texas Chrome in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Another Gold Rush winner—Get Happy Mister in 2012—became the highest-earning Colorado-bred Thoroughbred in history with $384,928 in earnings in a career that also included a victory in the 2015 Grade 3 San Simeon Stakes at Santa Anita.
The inaugural Arapahoe Park Quarter Horse Futurity for 2-year-olds over 400 yards will feature a new qualifying process. The fields for that race and the new Arapahoe Park Quarter Horse Derby for 3-year-olds over 400 yards will be determined by winners of weekly qualifying races held throughout the season as opposed to time trials. That format is similar to how Los Alamitos Race Course determines the field for its prestigious Champion of Champions. Two of those qualifying races will be the Cherry Creek Futurity and the Lucille Rowe Derby, traditionally the most prestigious Quarter Horse races for Colorado-bred 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds, respectively, that will be held at a later date in 2017 on July 15.
Arapahoe Park has also introduced new stakes races for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses in 2017. For Thoroughbreds the $30,000 Encantadora Stakes on July 9 will be for 3-year-old fillies over six furlongs. For Quarter Horses, there will be the $15,000 The Evergreen Stakes over 350 yards on June 18, the $15,000 Come Six Stakes over 400 yards on July 8, and the $22,500 Arapahoe Park Sprint Bonus Challenge over 300 yards on August 13.
“We’ve always appreciated the opportunity to be innovative at Arapahoe Park and look forward to trying new ideas for improving horse racing in Colorado,” Arapahoe Park executive director Bruce Seymore said.
More information about the stakes schedule, condition book, and stall applications is available on Arapahoe Park’s website, www.mihiracing.com.