Horse racing comes to Kingman

John Bombek isn't a stranger to horse racing tracks.

The 48-year-old California native, has traveled throughout the United States and Canada the past twenty-six years riding at race tracks large and small.

According to longtime friend Edward Ahrens, Bombek has ridden in nineteen states, one province and seventy-one tracks.

"I have ridden at every race track in Arizona with the exception of Kingman," Bombek said.

"I really can't explain why I have never been here.

I certainly look forward to this four-day meet.

This weekend Bombek will make it seventy-two race tracks as he competes in the 35th Annual Mohave County Horse Racing at Hualapai Downs Saturday, Sunday and May 19-20.

"I am just going to take it into stride and see what happens.

On Saturday, I am going to be in four races.

Hopefully, on Sunday I will race more."

Admission for each session of horse racing is $2.

"We are trying to run about 16 or 17 races a weekend," said Tom Fiqueroa, the racing secretary and announcer.

"We are trying to have eight or nice races a day.

"The maximum number per race is eight horses in race.

By average we usually get six or seven per race.

A lot of the horses are in the fair cirut already.

They run two weeks every cycle."

The post time is set for 1 p.m.

all four days and the horse racing will finish around 5:30 p.m.

"We will try to have a race every 20 minutes," Fiqueroa said.

"When one race becomes official then they start the post time for the next race."

Bombek won't be the only rider from out of state.

Jockeys will come from Utah, Nevada and Northern California.

"We will also have some jockeys from the Phoenix area," Fiqueroa said.

The more jockeys that come in the more the crowd has to pick from.

The larger variety the better off we are.

"The more people that we have the more the merry," he said.

"That is where we get the purse money from and it is good entertainment."

The fans will get their money's worth in Bombek.

Ahrens said Bombek's best year statistically was in 1977.

He was second leading rider at Turf Paradise in Phoenix and 15th in the nation as an apprentice.

"That was a terrific time," Bombek said.

"I was hot and everyone was going to Phoenix in the winter.

All the trainers from back east were going there and I was winning everything.

I was even winning on long shots that were 99-1."

Bombek knows the racing at Hualapai Downs won't be easy.

"I am going into this weekend with a strong attitude," Bombek said.

"I don't know what the competition will be like, but I know that there will be some good jockeys that are there."

Horse racing hasn't been always easy for Bombek.

He has had three minor concussions, four cracked ribs and a broken collarbone.

"Those have been the major injuries in my job," Bombek said.

"I had a spill at Fairplex (Pomona) in 2000 and a paddock incident earlier this year at Los Alamitos Race Track in Southern California."

But Bombek doesn't plan on slowing down.

"I am feeling great about myself and I love what I am doing," he said.

"I don't plan on stopping for a while."

Once Bombek is done at Hualapai Downs he will head back to Southern California and ride at the Santa Anita, Hollywood Park and Del Mar.

"I am going to keep being busy and hopefully I will be able to race at 100 race tracks."