Community overcomes budget cuts to keep Arizona tradition

Take the reins and ride like the wind But wear a helmet just in case

Community overcomes budget cuts to keep Arizona tradition

CREATED May 4, 2012

Reporter: Corinne Hautala

SONOITA, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) – Thousands are expected at the 97th annual Sonoita Horse Races, but the tradition was nearly cancelled due to state budget cuts.

The state stopped funding county fair horse racing, resulting in a loss of close to $150,000 for the Sonoita Horse Races.  Those in the community tell 9OYS not continuing the nearly century old tradition was not an option.

“My husband and I moved here 11 years ago and we saw from the beginning that this little fairground is the heart of our community,” said Deborah Fellows.

To keep the event running the community sprung into action.  Through business and individual donations more than $80,000 was raised to keep the races going.

Fellows believes 97 years of tradition motivated all the generous donations.

To ensure the races return next year, organizers are counting on the crowds to show. 

The races run May 5th & 6th at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds.  Gates open at 10a.m.  Along with the live racing, there will be off track simulcasts and betting from the Kentucky Derby.