The Rillito Park Race Track, birthplace of American Quarter Horse racing, will kick off its 70th season of races this weekend.
Patti Shirley, a horse trainer and member of the Pima County Horsemen's Association, says the action-packed weekend races offer a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors while visiting a local facility that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
"And you really get the feel of what is happening--you can see the jockeys, you can see all of the action," Shirley tells Arizona Illustrated. "So I think for people that enjoy or would like to learn something about horse racing, there can't be a better place than Rillito."
Tom Moulton, director of Pima County Economic Development and Tourism, adds the annual gatherings result in much more than racing-related fun and fanfare--they boost the local economy as well.
"Economic development is really very positive," Moulton says. "We do about $3.5 million in economic impact per year, but with the three additional races this year, we really think that's going to be well over [$4 million]."
The 2012 season kicks off Saturday, January 28th, and runs until Sunday, March 25th. Rillito Park Race Track is located at 4502 N. First Avenue in Tucson, just south of River Road. Organizers say there will not be any racing during Super Bowl weekend.