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Report from April 2017 NM Racing Commission Meeting
RSS Feeds Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The New Mexico Racing Commission held its monthly meeting at its headquarters in Albuquerque on Thursday, April 13.

New Mexico Horse Breeders’ Association executive director Anna Fay Davis gave the commission the race-a-day report for the first 64 days of the Sunland Park meet, which opened December 16. During this period, the track carded 274 New Mexico-bred races, 214 for Thoroughbreds and 60 for Quarter Horses. By comparison, Sunland Park carded 269 state-bred races -- 209 for Thoroughbreds and 60 for Quarter Horses, during its 2015-16 meet, which was shortened to 61 days.

An average of 4.28 New Mexico-bred races per day have been run during the first 64 days of the Sunland Park meet, a decrease of 3 percent from the 4.41 state-bred races per day during the track’s 61-day 2015-16 season.

Also, during the first 55 days of the Sunland Park season, a total of 320 New Mexico-breds have competed in open overnight races, of which 83 (26 percent) finished first, second, or third. Of this total, 63 were Thoroughbreds and 20 were Quarter Horses. Bonuses totaling $58,767.50 were paid to the owners of these horses.

Ms. Davis added that, during the first 64 days of its 2016-17 season, Sunland Park has carded 237 New Mexico-bred overnight races.

“There were 2,241 New Mexico-breds that were scheduled to participate in these races,” she reported. “This is an average of 9.46 New Mexico-breds per race.”

Ms. Davis also introduced Mary Barber to the commission. Ms. Barber has been the NMHBA’s registrar since 1993.

“Mary is responsible for registering horses, keeping track of New Mexico-bred races and New Mexico-breds racing in open races,” Ms. Davis said. “When you call the office with a question, she’s the one who can find the answers for you.”

Sunland Park’s 72-day meet runs through April 18.

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Commission vice chair Gayla McCulloch of Farmington reported on the commission’s rules committee meeting, which was held on April 12.

“The meeting went very well,” Ms. McCulloch said. “The main topic of the meeting was to update our rules to be consistent with the (Association of Racing Commissioners International’s) recent revision of their model rules.”
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New Mexico Horsemen’s Association (www.newmexicohorsemen.com) executive director Pat Bingham reported that the NMHBA would hold its awards banquet in Farmington on May 10. The banquet will honor award winners from 2015-16.

Mr. Bingham also said that the NMHBA has resumed producing its newsletter and that the mailing list numbers 5,200 subscribers. In addition, the association is working with the University of New Mexico’s economics department to produced a report on the economic impact of the horse industry in New Mexico.

“Also, (Governor Susana Martinez) will likely call a special session of the legislature in the near future, and there will be efforts to impose gross receipt taxes on our purses,” Mr. Bingham said. “We will continue to strongly oppose that.”

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Commission executive director Ismael “Izzy” Trejo recently celebrated his one-year anniversary in his post.

“I’d like to thank everyone who made the transition a smooth one for me, and I will continue to step out on the plank for this industry because it is one that has fed me and educated me,”said Mr. Trejo, whose father, Amalio, has been a longtime trainer on the southwest racing circuit.

Mr. Trejo also reported on the preseason walk-through at SunRay Park in Farmington, which opens its 36-day meet on April 21.

“The entire facility is as tidy as it can be,” he said. “I look forward to a great meet, and I plan to visit as often as I can.

“I also would like to congratulate Sunland Park on a job well done on its Sunland Derby Day program,” Mr. Trejo added. “They put on a great event for the entire weekend. It was a great event for the horse racing industry in New Mexico.”

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Also at the meeting:
*The commission approved Dr. David Fly to be its official veterinarian for the 52-day Ruidoso meet, which opens May 26.

*The commission approved the following board of stewards for the SunRay Park meet: Ron Walker (presiding), Linda Salinas, and Martin Hamilton. A former jockey, Hamilton rode the winners of 796 Thoroughbred races from 1976-90, primarily on the west coast, and he has been working in various capacities as a racing official since he retired from riding.

*The commission approved the jockey and exercise rider insurance policy for the Albuquerque Downs meet, which opens on June 24. “Our premium was reduced 4 percent from last year, so that’s an encouraging sign,” said track director of racing Don Cook.

*The commission approved Ruidoso Downs’ request to reduce its number of race dates in 2017 from 60, as originally approved, to 52. Ruidoso Downs will drop Monday racing from its schedule starting July 8 through the end of its meet on September 4.

Ruidoso Downs spokesman Dennis Monroe reported that the track would amend its condition book to offer 10 races a day, up from the original nine, and would implement a 5-percent purse increase for overnight races.

Representing the New Mexico Horsemen’s Association, executive director Pat Bingham said that his group opposed the cut in dates.

”Many people would be affected if the track was allowed to cut its dates,” Mr. Bingham said. “It would cut the number of opportunities for our horsemen, particularly on the Thoroughbred side. The meet’s dates have already been set, and people have made their plans.”

“With the overlap we have with Albuquerque, we have trouble filling our races as it is,” Mr. Monroe said. “Because we have such little crowd participation on Mondays, as people have already left Ruidoso after the weekend, this move makes sense to us.”
The commission approved the cut in dates by a 4-1 vote, with Ms. McCulloch casting the lone “no” vote.

*The commission approved the jockey and exercise rider insurance policy for SunRay Park. “Our premium dropped by 10 percent, and we’re hoping for another good year,” said SunRay director of racing Lonnie Barber.

“We’ve done a lot of work on our racetrack to prepare for the opening of our meet,” he added. “We added about 1,500 tons of sand and about 1,000 tons of bark, and we plan to add some gypsum to it. As of yesterday (April 12), we had 21 horses on the grounds, but we had enough stall application to fill up our barns when the meet starts. A lot of horses will be showing up in the next week.”

*Sunland Park director of racing Dustin Dix reported that handle on Sunland Derby Day, March 26, reached $3.2 million.

“We were hoping for $4 million, but we were very pleased,” he added. “After what happened last year and being that we were forced to cancel it last year, it was good to have it back this year. We added a Pick-4 wager and rolling double wagers, and we increased the amount of time between races to accommodate the large crowd.

“To hear Sunland Park mentioned in a national spotlight is good for New Mexico racing,” Mr. Dix said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of every Sunland Derby since the race’s inception, and to see how much it’s grown in stature is very gratifying. We hope to grow it even more.”

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The next New Mexico Racing Commission monthly meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 11, at SunRay Park Racetrack in Farmington, beginning at 10:30 a.m. For more information, visit the commission's website at http://nmrc.state.nm.us, or call (505) 222-0700.

In The News

Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Nine stakes races, including two restricted to New Mexico-breds, were contested on Zia Park’s Wednesday’s “Land of Enchantment Day” program.
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Two stakes for New Mexico-breds -- one for Thoroughbreds and one for Quarter Horses -- will be featured on Wednesday’s $1.303-million Land of Enchantment Day program at Zia Park.
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Jockeys Ry Eikleberry and Roimes Chirinos each rode the winners of two races during Sunday’s $2-million New Mexico Cup Day program at Zia Park.
Thursday, October 26, 2017
A total of 131 New Mexico-bred Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses has been entered in Sunday’s New Mexico Cup races at Zia Park. Purses for the 12 races -- eight for Thoroughbreds and four for Quarter Horses -- will exceed $2 million, once again making New Mexico Cup day the richest state- or province-bred day of racing in North America.

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