Guy Atchley's AZ - Rillito Downs History Abounds!
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -Guy Atchley has captured the spirit of the southwest at Rillito Park Race Track "in the flesh!" Horse flesh that is ... with a spectacular photo album highlighting the horses, the fans, the staff and the track itself at Rillito Downs.
The Rillito Park Race Track's season lasts the months of January to March, with a live racing schedule on Saturdays and Sundays, and as the season winds down we're reminded of the historical significance of this equestrian gem.
This famous track on the banks of the Rillito River was the birthplace of many racing innovations still in use today. World famous sprinters such as Shue Fly, Joe Reed II, Piggin String, Hard Twist, Queenie, and Miss Panama all ran at Rillito.
When Rillito Park was built, it quickly became the talk of the Southwest, as it was the first regulated quarter horse facility in the United States. In its first season alone, Rillito set a number of standards that are being used in quarter horse racing to this very day.
Its also the birthplace of the "photo finish." A high-speed clock was placed at the finish line, and the finish was filmed with a movie camera. Frame-by-frame examination of the photographs, which showed the horses and the time, provided proof in a close race. Although crude by modern standards, the use of the photo finish was developed at Rillito.
Rillito was designated a national historic landmark in 1988.
Today, the property has two restaurants, ADA accessible facilities, grandstand, barns, training area, special events, soccer/multi-use fields, picnic areas, ramadas, restrooms, and drinking water. All with the beautiful mountain foothills as the back drop.
Despite all of that, Rillito is in danger of closing permanently. For information on how you can help save this equestrian gem in the desert, visit http://saverillitoracetrack.com.