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Nathan Santistevan

Hooved Heat

SUN, 7/24

George Washington and his peers couldn't watch drag races, so they probably did the next best thing: revved up the equine engines known as quarter horses and let 'em rip over a quarter-mile track.

And while the fancy thoroughbreds that run the longer distances of the Triple Crown races get the most attention, there's something appealing about quarter horses, an American mix of thoroughbreds and Spanish ponies, with bloodlines that run back to colonial times.

"These are all-around horses, not as high-strung as some Arabians," but able to accelerate rapidly, says Gretchen Boling of the Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse Association. Yet the horses are versatile workers, too. "They have to move slowly into a herd of cattle to sort them out."

All of their traits will be on display today at a Day at the Races (at Arapahoe Park, 26000 East Quincy Avenue in Aurora), an annual event sponsored by the 1,200-member Denver-based association. Boling says that come 1 p.m. post time, spectators will be able to watch four or five races featuring the breed. There will also be a variety of activities -- ranging from free rides to chariot races -- to appeal not only to the raging gambler in the family, but also to young cowpokes.

A couple or family on a budget can drop just five bucks and get two paid admissions, two hotdogs and sodas and a racing program. There's also a $15 package, which includes preferred clubhouse seating, a buffet lunch, a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the track, and some handicapping advice, to boot.

For information, call 303-690-2400 or visit Tell 'em George sent you. -- Cub Buenning

Rolling, Rolling
Motocross revs up at Thunder Valley.
SAT, 7/23

The foothills near Morrison will be alive today and tomorrow with the sounds of racing. But unlike reverb from the machines that roll in nearby Bandimere Speedway, this noise comes from two-wheelers.

And despite the somewhat misleading title, the Toyota Trucks Pro Motocross National at Thunder Valley presented by Thor is really about daring cyclists rolling over nature's terrain. It won't just be raw nature, though. With the upgrades touted by the 130-acre track's backers, amenities such as an automated sprinkler system to keep dust down -- and the course sticky -- can be a big deal. Practice and qualifying runs begin at 1 p.m. today, while opening ceremonies for the finals are slated for 12:30 p.m. tomorrow.

Promoter David Clabaugh says he expects the event to become an annual motor sport favorite.

The track is on Rooney Road in Lakewood, located south of I-70 and just west of C-470. A two-day pass is $20 for children ten and under, and $40 for adults. Races take place rain or shine. For information, log on to -- Ernie Tucker


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