Ruidoso Downs, the iconic mountain racetrack that has been home to many of the world’s best quarter horses and richest races, is being sold.
R.D. Hubbard has signed a letter of intent to sell the track, its casino and the Ruidoso Horse Sale Company to a group of five businessmen with ties to the racing and breeding industry.
Stan Sigman, Gary McKinney, Narciso (Chicho) Flores and Johnny Trotter of Texas and John Andreini make up the prospective owners group.
“There’s no question the future of Ruidoso was at the forefront of everybody’s mind when we did this deal,” Ruidoso Downs president and general manager Shaun Hubbard said by phone on Monday. “These five guys who will be assuming ownership are second to none when it comes to business and being an integral part of the horse racing industry.”
The price of the transaction has not been made public. Details are still being worked on and the New Mexico Racing Commission eventually will have to approve the sale.
The Hubbards will continue to operate the track through Labor Day. The 2017 meet opens May 26.
“We are about to start our due diligence, and in due time we will start the process of gaining regulatory approval,” Sigman, the group’s chairman, said in a news release. “It is our goal to close the deal in the fourth quarter of 2017.”
Sigman was the CEO of AT&T Mobility, the wireless unit of AT&T, Inc., and later formed a partnership with Steve Jobs and Apple. He owns Namgis Quarter Horses, a breeding operation out of Hondo, Texas.
Trotter is a former American Quarter Horse Association president and was inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2015. He bred and was a co-owner of stakes winner and sire One Famous Eagle.
Flores has also campaigned stakes winning quarter horses as an owner and breeder based in Texas.
McKinney, head of Reliance Energy in Texas, is a breeder, ranch owner and former rodeo roper.
Andreini, a California insurance executive, has served as a director of the AQHA and on that organization’s racing committee.
R.D. Hubbard, 81, bought the track in 1988 with Dr. Ed Allred. He purchased Allred’s interest last year.
“I’m not about to quit racing,” Hubbard said in a news release. “I still need to win the All American Futurity. We’re still breeding mares and still making babies.”
The All American Futurity, the world’s richest quarter horse event, went from a $2 million purse in 1989 to $3 million last year.
Shaun Hubbard said he and his grandfather, R.D., have come to know most of the prospective owners on a personal basis.
“I think the sky’s the limit,” Shaun Hubbard said. “Continuing the legacy and prestige of the historic racing events is going to happen. I think they can make it bigger and better. I truly believe that. They have all been highly successful businessmen in their own right. They have the résumé and capital behind them to do things unforeseen to most.”
The Ruidoso Horse Sales Company has become the nation’s top seller of yearling racing quarter horses — in dollar volume and average price. Hubbard’s Crystal Springs Farm is a short drive from Ruidoso Downs.
“Nothing will change at Crystal Springs, except maybe putting an All American Futurity winner in one of the paddocks,” R.D. said in the release.
While R.D. will set his sights on winning the All American, Shaun is not sure what the future holds for him.
“Horses and horse racing have been a large part of my life since I was a little kid growing up on the farm,” Shaun said.