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Rillito Park all set for opening day

January 14, 2011     E-mail this page to a friend!

Historic Rillito Park in Tucson, Arizona, opens its five-week meeting tomorrow (Saturday, January 15) with new spirit and full fields.

“We have a four-year lease beginning this year,” explains Pat White, General Manager and Director of Racing. “That gave us the opportunity to really put a lot of work into the track and into the building, too!”

Racing surface upgrades have been going on over the last four weeks. “We spent $30,000 on track renovations,” White said. “All the horsemen I’ve talked with say it’s the best it’s been in years.”

Improvements to the clubhouse and grandstands are also complete. “I have to tell you: it looks really good. We had the inspectors come through here yesterday, and they said it’s never looked better,” White said. “We’ve taken over concessions, too, so fans should appreciate the difference there, too.”

Referring to last weekend’s tragedy in Tucson, the general manager added, “We’re all grieving, But we’re moving forward and we hope people will come out this weekend.”

As for the races themselves, the nine-race opening day card has seven full gates. The feature race of the day is the Dr. Dale Shirley Memorial for 3YO and older going 6 furlongs. So Gone (#7) looks like he could pull the mild upset as the fourth-favorite at 9-to-2 on the morning line, but watch out for 15-to-1 longshot Yield A Winner (#8), who has never been out of the money with jockey Tanner Thedford in the irons.

Racing continues each Saturday and Sunday through February 20 (except for Super Bowl weekend, February 5 and 6).