Friday, February 24, 2012
The New Mexico Racing Commission held its monthly meeting at its headquarters in Albuquerque on Thursday, February 23.
New Mexico Horse Breeders’ Association executive director Anna Fay Davis gave the commission her race-a-day reports for Sunland Park. During the first 40 days of the Sunland meet, December 6-February 12, the track ran 195 New Mexico-bred races – 137 for Thoroughbreds and 58 for Quarter Horses. By comparison, the track carded 211 state-bred races during the first 40 days of its 2010-11 meet, 145 for Thoroughbreds and 66 for Quarter Horses.
Also, during the first 20 days of the 2011-12 Sunland Park season, a total of 104 New Mexico-breds competed in open overnight races, of which 26 (25 percent) finished first, second, or third. Of this total, five were Thoroughbreds and 21 were Quarter Horses. Bonuses totaling $17,200.40 were paid to the owners of these horses.
The 77-day Sunland Park meet runs through April 17.
Ms. Davis also thanked Sunland Park director of racing operations Dustin Dix for the track's cooperation during the New Mexico 4-H Youth Project field trip on February 18. A total of 24 people, youth and adults, attended the event.
“The event was a success, and we plan to do more in the future,” she told the commission.
New Mexico Horsemen's Association executive director Jack McGrail announced to the commmission that two new members – Mary Lee Pinkerton and Dick Cappelucci – have been elected to the NMHA's statewide board of directors. He also reported that a resolution still has not been reached regarding the stabling of horses between the end of the SunRay Park meet on June 26 and the beginning of The Downs at Albuquerque season on August 11, but that progress has been made.
Due to a horse show on the Expo New Mexico grounds, the stable area at The Downs will not be open totally to race horses until after the show ends on July 29, or just two weeks before the race meet opens.
McGrail also commended management at Sunland Park for a successful meet thus far.
“Sunland continues to card competitive racing and good field sizes,” he said. “We've had few complaints from horsemen, and that's a good thing.
“We continue to face external challenges, as the Jemez Pueblo has refiled an application with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to build a casino in nearby Anthony, New Mexico, and there has been been talk of reopening the Speaking Rock Casino in El Paso,” McGrail added. “We're working with (Sunland Park resident manager) Harold Payne to develop a strategy to offset competition from these two entities.”
McGrail also discussed the opening of the Northern Edge Casino near Farmington and the impact that would have on purses at SunRay Park, which opens its 48-day meet on April 20.
“Business at SunRay's casino seems to be holding its own, though there has been some loss of revenue,” he said. “It appears that this upcoming meet won't be dramatically affected by the opening of the Northern Edge Casino, and that we'll be able to race for close to the same purse money we raced for last year.”
An 86,000-square foot gaming center located on the Navajo reservation, the Northern Edge Casino opened for business on January 16.
In other business, the commission voted to ban the race day use of clenbuterol in Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds for a 12-month period, beginning April 20. Marketed in the U.S. as Ventipulmin, clenbuterol is a bronchodilator and can continue to be used in out-of-competition racehorses for the treatment of allergic respiratory disease.
Before the vote, the commission heard from several interested parties both in favor of and against the ban.
The next commission meeting will be held on Thursday, March 22, in the Mt. Cristo Rey Room at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino. 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 www.nmrc.state.nm.us, or call the commission office in Albuquerque at (505) 222-0700.