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March 1 marks 10th Anniversary for Rocky Mountain Turf Club

February 24, 2006     E-mail this page to a friend!

By Garry Allison
The Horses, Rocky Mountain Turf Club

March 1, 2006 marks the 10th anniversary of the Rocky Mountain Turf Club's take-over of horse racing at Whoop-Up Downs in Lethbridge - and it couldn't have been a more successful move.

Horse racing was down to a hand-full of days a year with the largest purse $800 and total stake purse money less than $80,000. With the opening of the 2006 season, RMTC offers a minimum purse of $4,300 a race with more than $800,000 is stake purse money. As well, the once empty grandstand is now home to the bustling Bullys Sports and Entertainment Centre.

"There's a reason we call ourselves the Best Little Horse House in the West," says RMTC/Bullys CEO Max Gibb, "so come on down and see for yourself!

"Have you ever heard of a Racino? Well, its what we call a Casino with a live Horse Race Track right outside the main door. At the RMTC, where we have live horse racing each weekend in May and June, as well as September, October and the first weekend of November, you can experience the thrill of a Racino. All year long however, we also feature the Vegas style slot machines, off-track simulcast horse racing with wagering facilities in our Royal Ascot Lounge and many other special attractions."

An added feature this season will be the implementation of live and simulcast pari-mutuel wagering for Alberta tracks by telephone and through the internet, commencing May 6-7, opening weekend at Lethbridge.

"The government of Alberta made a commitment to keeping horse racing alive in this province and we're proof-positive the program works," says Gibb. "Its not only the live racing that is benefiting - we have 54 days of live racing at Lethbridge this year - but the Alberta-bred program and an all-breeds racing program as well."

The Horses at Rocky Mountain Turf Club at Whoop-Up Downs in Lethbridge swing into action the May 6-7 weekend, as this most exciting of the Extreme Sports hits the track. Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, Paints and Arabian horses are all featured at Whoop-Up Downs, brought to you by the RMTC.

"Live horse racing generates more than $40 million dollars in Southern Alberta through direct jobs and spin-offs from the horse racing industry," says Gibb. "The Lethbridge horse racing industry created more than 1,000 full and part-time jobs last season.

"There will be more than 500 horses along the backstretch as the season progresses, all hoping for their shot at millions of dollars in regular purses and stake races throughout the season."

Gibb sees the problems horse racing is having south of the border, in Montana in particular, and knows from experience the sport can come back, as it has in Alberta through the directorship of Horse Racing Alberta, if all parties are on the same track.

"Our goal is to support our southern neighbours, after all they assist us each year with horses, owners, trainers and fans," says Gibb. "It proves to be only better for us if racing in Montana and the northwestern states prospers. For one thing, I'd like to see the old Great Falls-Lethbridge Challenge Race revived, and maybe expanded to other southern tracks. It simply builds interest in our great sport.

"Montana is very strong not only in Thoroughbreds but in Quarter horses and Paints as well, and there's no reason the sport shouldn't return to its glory days again in that state. Many of the top Quarter Horses and Paints we run here are part of that strong Montana cowboy tradition."

With the 10th anniversary at Whoop-Up Downs, Gibb is planning a million dollar refurbishing of the facility, from the washrooms and air flow system, to the aesthetics of the buildings and backstretch improvements. Work should be under way by the end of March.

"We hope to have a lot of it done by opening weekend," Gibb says.
The unique western atmosphere and a friendly staff make Rocky Mountain Turf Club and Bullys a fun place to visit at the south end of Henderson Lake, adjacent to Exhibition Park.

"And don't forget June 16-18, when we have more horse power on our track in one weekend than anywhere else," says Gibb. "We combine live horse racing with live chuckwagon racing, featuring the World Professional Chuckwagon Association with many of the same drivers you'll see at the Calgary Stampede. We have horse racing in the afternoon, wagons at night, and then reverse the program when the wagons run in the afternoon."

Bullys is licensed, with the best spirit prices in town, and a full menu, which includes delicious appetizers and Bully Burgers with numerous combinations, as well as a mouth watering Six Shooter steak. On the lighter side there's a variety of salads and Wraps.
"Bullys is famous in the South for our 14 flavours of chicken wings at 35 cents each and every day of the week," says Bullys Manager Rose Rossi. "We have different home cookin' Daily Specials at $6.95 and a breakfast special at $3 to accommodate the early bunch.

"Bullys has a reputation for great food, low prices, a variety of entertainment, and it's warm hospitable staff. There is something for everyone. And remember coffee is on us!"

You can have fun playing pool with the gang, or play some of the wide variety of Vegas Style Slot Machines. Sports enthusiasts can check out the 47 satellite televisions/big screens TVs, bringing you off-track simulcast horse racing from all the big North American tracks and other sports events from around the world.

"Just sit back, enjoy some wings and cheer on your favourites," says Rossi.

RMTC has a set of "Betting Buddies" on hand each weekend to teach novices, and regulars, how to read the program and place a wager.

''You can also be an instant winner of all sorts of prizes just for placing a bet on an instant pop-up when you place your wager," says Rossi. "We also have special nights throughout the year, with TGI Friday, with the races starting at 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday the post time is 1:30 p.m. and on holiday Mondays as well.

"Sit in Bullys or the Jerry Potts 5th Floor Lounge for an inside, full view of the grounds. You can also wander outdoors in the grandstand area and enjoy the tarmac or the Picnic Park area on the south end, right next to the Paddock.

"Kids are always welcome! They can enjoy the fun of the Jr. Jockey's Club where we have an Activities Coordinator in the fun and games department with programs to suit kids of all ages.

The kids can enjoy pony rides, clowns making balloons, the petting zoo and face painting."
RMTC has all sorts of Promotional Days, Special Event and Special Occasions with giveaways and festivities to excite both kids and adults.

As well, RMTC and Bullys are proud to continue working with, and supporting, many non-profit groups, amateur sports, and others with special fund-raising events. Through Rose Rossi's initiative, RMTC and Bullys has raised more than a half million dollars for charitable organizations.

Rocky Mountain Turf Club also offers company and group sponsorship packages, as well as VIP Sponsor Parties.

"You may like to get your name on a race blanket, presented in the winner's circle. And then receive a picture with your group," says Rossi. "It's an opportunity to treat your guests or staff, or show customer loyalty. It's fun, visible and promoted with energy and style.

"Facility rentals, for your wedding, special occasions, conferences and other events are also available. There are five special rooms available besides our Infield, Tarmac, and Picnic Areas to choose from, for almost any type of event with reasonable rates. Just phone 382-1119 and ask for Rose (Rossi) for details. Or email us at: or

Upcoming events at The Rocky Mountain Turf Club this season include:

Live Horse Race Dates:
* May 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 22, 27 ,28
* June 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 30
* July 2
* September 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30
* October 1, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 28, 29
* November 4, 5

Other Events:
* April 7, 8, 9 - Southern Music Vegas Pool League Tournament
* April 18 - World Pro Chuck Wagons Canvas Auction
* June 16-18 - World Pro Chuck Wagons
* June 23-24 - Hot Rod Weekend
Dance to Kenny & The Cruisers
* July 14-15 - Street Machine Weekend
Official Street Machine Party! Cabaret at 8 p.m.
* July 21-22 - Monster Trucks
* August 11-12 - Infield Concert
* September - Aboriginal Fest
* October 29 - RMTC Horses Auction
* November - Bullys/Southern Music Pool League Tournament
* November - The Jingle Bell Run