Originally published May 24, 2019 at 09:56p.m.

Updated May 25, 2019 at 01:10a.m.

After Ya Antabtssy crossed the finish line, becoming the first horse to win a race at Arizona Downs since 2010, spectator Mike Rowe said he was excited to not only have seen the race, but come out a winner.

Rowe, who is from Anthem, said he bet on the horse after receiving a tip earlier in the day to bet on No. 2 in the first race. He said he would definitely be back to see more races down the road.

“It’s just fun to see horses,” Rowe said.

Friday, May 24, was opening day at Arizona Downs and the first time horse racing occurred at the racetrack since it closed in 2010.


Brynlee Smith, Kathy Vallely and Mattie Smith don their best headwear for opening day at Arizona Downs on Friday, May 24, in Prescott Valley. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

Prior to the ribbon cutting, Prescott Valley Mayor Kell Palguta said it is amazing to have racing back at the track, something people never thought would return. It is one of the best things that has happened to Prescott Valley, Palguta said.

Tom Auther, co-owner of Arizona Downs, also said it is exciting and rewarding to have Arizona Downs open for racing.

“Our general manager has put a lot of work in,” Auther said. “I think there were a lot of doubters.”

Connie Makus said she had been waiting a long time to have racing back at the track. Though she lived in Tucson when the facility closed, she is happy racing has returned because she lives in the area now and plans on coming back. Makus said she enjoys being outside, seeing the horses and betting.

Having driven past the track many times, Frank Massey said he is happy to see racing return because it is something new in town. Opening day at Arizona Downs was the second time he has been to a horse race, Massey said.

“I’ve only been to one other horse race and that was in Oklahoma City,” he said. “Going and looking at the horses and hearing them run … it was something else.”

That race in Oklahoma City was 20 years ago, Massey said. He will be coming back to Arizona Downs for more horse racing, he said.

This weekend’s races continue through Memorial Day, Monday, May 27. The track will have a racing card every weekend until Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 2. A full schedule can be found online at www.arizonadowns.com/live-racing/.

Tickets, also available online, are $2 for general admission, $5 for box seats plus general admission, $7 for box seats with TV plus general admission and $40 for a table reservation that includes admission, a seat at a table in the restaurant and access to the buffet.


Mini dog racing was also running at opening day of Arizona Downs on Friday, May 24, in Prescott Valley. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)