Thursday, December 05, 2013
The New Mexico Racing Commission held its monthly meeting at its headquarters in Albuquerque on Thursday, December 5.
New Mexico Horse Breeders’ Association executive director Anna Fay Davis gave the commission her race-a-day report for 56-day The Downs at Albuquerque meet, which ran August 2-October 30. During the meet, the track ran 181 New Mexico-bred races -- 102 for Thoroughbreds and 79 for Quarter Horses. By comparison, The Downs at Albuquerque carded 218 state-bred races -- 134 for Thoroughbreds and 84 for Quarter Horses -- during its 2012 season, which ran 54 days.
An average of 3.24 New Mexico-bred races per day were run during the 2013 Albuquerque meet, a decrease of 20 percent from the 4.04 state-bred races per day contested during the track’s ’12 season.
Also, during the 56-day Albuquerque meet a total of 644 New Mexico-breds competed in open overnight races, of which 174 (27 percent) finished first, second, or third. Of this total, 95 were Thoroughbreds and 79 were Quarter Horses. Bonuses totaling $68,050.90 were paid to the owners of these horses.
Davis also reported that, during the first 36 days of Zia Park meet, which opened on September 7, a total of 199 New Mexico-bred races were run, 130 for Thoroughbreds and 69 for Quarter Horses. By comparison, the track carded 202 state-bred races during the first 36 days of its 2012 season, 135 for Thoroughbreds and 67 for Quarter Horses.
An average of 5.53 New Mexico-bred races per day were run during the first 36 days of this year's Zia Park meet, a decrease of nearly 2 percent from the 5.62 state-bred races per day carded during the first 36 days of Zia Park's 2012 season.
In addition, Davis announced that the NMHBA Award Incentive Fund checks were mailed on November 26. The total award distribution was $4,048,931.77, a decrease of 2 percent from the 2012 award distribution of $4,139,638.57. The award allocation period was from September 8, 2012-September 27, 2013, excluding Zia Park’s 2013 season and The Downs at Albuquerque meet from September 28, 2013-October 30, 2013.
Of the total award distribution, $3,093,592.56 -- or 76 percent -- was generated from gaming. A total of 1,790 checks were issued in 2013.
“We had members calling our office, telling us they were planning on sending their horses into training or breeding their mares, and they were going to be using money from these checks to help with those costs,” Davis said. “This proves that this money does have a huge churn effect on the economy of our state.”
In his report to the commission, Jockeys’ Guild southwest regional manager John Beech had positive things to say about the 2013 Zia Park meet.
“The condition of the racing surface was the best I’d seen in a long time,” Beech said. “I had no complaints at all from the jockeys.”
Also, NMRC investigator Bradley Brocker reported on his pre-meet inspection at Sunland Park racetrack, which opens its 2013-14 meet on December 6. Joining Brocker on the walk-through inspection, which took place November 6, were NMRC executive director Vince Mares, commission investigator Melodie Ryan, commissioner Ray Willis, track executives Rick Baugh (resident manager), Dustin Dix (director of racing), and Jesse Olivas (director of security), and New Mexico Horsemen’s Association representative Larry Nichols.
Brocker reported that the Sunland inspection included a visit to the horsemen’s lounge, which featured a new ceiling and floor, the turf club, which was upgraded with the addition of new television monitors, the track infirmary, jockeys’ room, and stable area. The tour of the stable area included a visit to the test and receiving barns, and an inspection of the public address system and surveillance cameras.
Also at the meeting, the commission unveiled its redesigned website, which was six months in the making, according to executive director Mares. The address is the same (http://nmrc.state.nm.us), but the look is different.
“The way our website was previously designed, it wasn’t user friendly,” Mares said. “We were aware that we needed to raise the bar to improve the communication between the commission and our licensees.”
The top of the redesigned website homepage features links to rules and regulations, licensing, medications, rulings, investigations, racetracks and resources, and race dates. Future plans include a link to stewards’ rulings, which will be accessed from the Association of Racing Commissioners International’s website.
“One of the good things about our website is that it is maintained and updated in-house,” Mares said. “We have the capability to update information as we get it.”
Also at the meeting:
*The commission set the dates for its first six meetings of 2014 -- January 9, February 20, March 20, April 17, May 15, and June 19. All of the first six meetings will be held in Albuquerque, and all meetings will begin with an executive session at 8:30 a.m., followed by a public session at 10:30 a.m.
*The commission voted to approve six rule changes. For more information, visit the commission’s website at http://nmrc.state.nm.us, or call the commission office at (505) 222-0700.
*Fred Hutton, director of racing at Zia Park, thanked the commission and executive director Mares for its quick work of approving changes in the track’s racing schedule following weather-related cancellations on November 23-24. The following dates, November 27 and 29, were added to make up for the lost dates.
“The commission jumped through hoops to allow us to make up the dates we’d lost,” Hutton said. “We had a record-breaking single-day handle on November 27, our Land of Enchantment big-stakes day. Everyone involved, including our horsemen, deserve kudos.”
*Hutton also told the commission that Zia Park’s overall handle increased 14 percent and average daily handle was up 10 percent over the track’s 2012 season. He added that the November 27 Land of Enchantment Day card saw the track’s single-race Quarter Horse handle broken on the Zia Park Championship (G1), and the single-race Thoroughbred handle broken on the inaugural running of the $300,000 Zia Park Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.
*The commission approved changes in the 2014 Ruidoso Downs stakes schedule, which will allow the track to spread its Zia Festival races for New Mexico-bred Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses over a two-day period.
“We saw the overwhelming success that The Downs at Albuquerque had when they moved their Lineage races to a two-day weekend period,” said Ruidoso Downs general manager Shaun Hubbard. “We’d like to make our Zia Festival a big weekend, rather than just one big day.”
*The commission approved David Keiter, Ed L’Ecuyer, and Ron Walker to serve as the board of stewards at the 2013-14 Sunland Park meet. Keiter, L’Ecuyer, and Walker served in the same capacity during the 2013 Zia Park season.
The next regular monthly commission meeting will be held on Thursday, January 9, in Albuquerque. The executive session will begin at 8:30 a.m. and will be followed by the public session at 10:30 a.m. For more information, visit the commission's website at http://nmrc.state.nm.us, or call (505) 222-0700.