"It's fabulous." Sonoita celebrates 99th annual horse races on derby day

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"It's fabulous." Sonoita celebrates 99th annual horse races on derby day

By Rikki Mitchell. CREATED May 3, 2014

SONOITA, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - It may not be Kentucky, but Southern Arizona sure knows how to make it feel that way.

"If we can't be at the Kentucky Derby, we're going to bring it here," said Sasha Estavillo from St. David, Ariz.

The mint juleps were flowing...

"What would Kentucky Derby day be without a nice cold mint julep?" said Jim Cosbey, president of the Santa Cruz County Fair and Rodeo Association.

And of course, the hats demanded to be seen.

"We've been planning our outfits and our hats the whole thing," said Estavillo.  "We wanted to make sure we got here and did the whole day."

In a town of about 800, the Sonoita Horse Races draw in 7,000 people.

"It's fabulous I mean it's so beautiful," said Pat Black. "This is just down home country almost."

And this down home country track will soon celebrate a big anniversary.

"Obviously we're looking forward to the 100th anniversary which is next year," said Cosbey. "[There are] very few tracks in the western part of the United States that can say they've been running continuously for 100 years."

But on Saturday, it was all about watching those horses fly past, and enjoying the day in true Sonoita style.

"I love the atmosphere, I love watching the horses run," said Stacy Vineyard. "And I like to drink."


The races continue Sunday in Sonoita, with a Cinco de Mayo celebration. Gates open at 10 a.m.

Rikki Mitchell

Rikki Mitchell

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Rikki Mitchell is a proud University of Arizona grad and joined the KGUN9 team after graduation. Rikki reports for the evening newscasts.