Ruidoso Downs Racetrack Hall of Fame to honor six inductees this summer
Ruidoso Downs Racetrack will induct five individuals and one race horse into theRuidoso Downs Racetrack Hall of Fame this summer with the annual ceremony scheduled for June 29.
The annual banquet to honor the Hall of Fame inductees will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 29 at Alto Lakes Country Club. Tickets to the banquet will be available through the Ruidoso Downs Box office at 575-378-4140.
Here are the 2023 Ruidoso Downs Race Horse Hall of Fame Inductees:
See Me Do It
See Me Do It, the 1989 AQHA World Champion, has been selected as this year’s horse inductee. Owned and bred by the late Jean Dillard, who passed away in 2021, See Me Do It won 17 career races in 24 starts accumulating earnings of $913,464.
As a two-year-old in 1988, See Me Do It finished second in the Grade-1 All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs, and won the Oklahoma Spring Futurity at Blue Ribbon Downs.
The filly went undefeated her three-year-old season winning three grade-1 stakes events including the Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos; and the All American Derby and Rainbow Derby at Ruidoso Downs. She was the only horse in AQHA history to win all three of those prestigious stakes races.
The champion mare capped off her career as a four-year-old winning the 1990 All American Gold Cup and World Championship Classic at Ruidoso Downs.
In 1973 the Urschel family won their first of an unprecedented four Rainbow Futurities with homebred mare Flying Rockette campaigned by Mary Urschel, Dan’s mother. Dan’s father Lester passed away shortly after that, and they took a short break from racing before re-entering the industry in 1978 when they purchased a six-figure yearling filly named Easy Dimple at the All-American Yearling Sale.
The family’s success on the race track continued in 1979 when Pie In The Sky won the All American Futurity that year. The following season, the family won the 1980 Rainbow Futurity and finished second in the All American Futurity with Mighty Deck Three.
In 1981, Dan and Jolene paid the highest price in history, $1 million, for a two-year-old quarter horse named Special Effort. The son of Raise Your Glass (TB), Special Effort posted the fastest qualifying time in trials of the Kansas Futurity (now called the Ruidoso Futurity). Special Effort would go on to win the Kansas Futurity, the Rainbow Futurity and the All American Futurity and remains the only race horse to win the Triple Crown series. The young stallion had been syndicated for $15 million prior to winning the All-American Futurity and became one of the industry’s leading sires and leading broodmare sires.
Over a three-year span, 1979 to 1982, the Urschel family won the Kansas (Ruidoso) Futurity twice, Rainbow Futurity twice, the All American Futurity twice, and the Kansas (Ruidoso) Derby once. They also won the first running of the Heritage Place Futurity in 1981 with Jumbo Pacific.
Joe A. Martinez
Jockey Joe A. Martinez is considered one of the top jockeys throughout the Southwest during his three-decade career.
Martinez was at the height of his career in 1990 when he won an all-time record 103 races during one season at Ruidoso Downs.
Some of Martinez’s most notable mounts include: See Me Gone, winner of the 1991 Rainbow and All American Derby; Royal Down Dash, winner of the 1993 All American Derby, 1993 Sunland Park Fall Derby and 1994 New Mexico Challenge Championship; and World Champion Stoli, on board to win the 2000 West Texas Futurity.
A top rider of quarter horses and thoroughbreds, Martinez won more than 4,000 races in 25,300 mounts with combined earnings of $36,500,000.
He won more than 140 stakes races including the All-American Derby twice, Rainbow Derby twice, Rainbow Futurity, Texas Classic Derby, and Riley Allison Futurity among other stakes events.
Paul A. Smith
If there is a trainer known for stamina and longevity in the New Mexico racing industry, it's Smith, who continues to train race horses in a career that dates back nearly 70 years.
Smith first came to New Mexico training race horses in the 1950’s. Some of his earliest athletes that helped him to establish his career include: the famous match race horse Painted Joe Jr.; the two-furlong world record holder Red Jones; influential quarter horse sire Otoe; and foundation broodmares Miss Breeze Bar and Three’s Gal. Perhaps Smith’s most recognized stakes winner was the great Fast Gas who in the late sixties and early seventies won 18 stakes races throughout New Mexico, including five stakes races at Ruidoso Downs.
Smith-trained horses have more than 14,000 starts with 1,500 wins and career earnings of more than $8.2 million.
Mike "Mitch" Mitchell
Recently retired after a long stint as Ruidoso Downs outrider, Mitch Mitchell was raised in South Dakota as part of a large ranching family. He began riding races while in high school at local racetracks in Fort Pierre and Park Jefferson until he became physically too heavy. He began working at various racetracks across the country as a gallop boy, assistant trainer and other track-related positions.
By the mid-1980’s Mitch came to Ruidoso Downs and began working on the track’s gate crew for the next fifteen years. Then, after suffering an injury, he switched jobs to become the track’s outrider, a position he held for the next twenty years until his retirement in 2021.
The phrase “never met a stranger” describes Mitch perfectly. As head outrider, he took seriously the responsibility for the safety of both jockey and race horse. He also enjoyed sitting in the saddle next to the rail in-between races to let race fans get an up-close look at his mount. He will be honored for his work by becoming a member of the Hall of Fame.
Scott Wells spent his lifetime in the horse racing industry after getting a fast head start. As a young boy he accompanied his father, Ted, to Ruidoso Downs in 1960, and in a few short years they would win the 1965 All-American Futurity with Savannah Jr.
Striking out on his own in the early 1970s, he worked as assistant trainer to racing legends D. Wayne Lukas, Jack Van Berg and Richard Hazelton. From that point, Wells became a licensed thoroughbred trainer on his own.
In 1990, Wells changed his career path and began working in race track management. First employed by Remington Park, he soon accepted a position as assistant general manager at Hollywood Park. That was followed by a general manager position at Ruidoso Downs, followed by race track management positions in Mexico City and Uruguay.
In 2004, Wells assumed the role of general manager at Remington Park and shortly thereafter accepted the same position at Lone Star Park. He held both positions until his retirement at the end of 2021.
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This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: Ruidoso Downs Racetrack Hall of Fame to honor six this summer