Thursday, January 09, 2014
The New Mexico Racing Commission held its first monthly meeting of 2014 at its headquarters in Albuquerque on Thursday, January 9.
New Mexico Horse Breeders’ Association executive director Anna Fay Davis gave the commission her race-a-day report for 56-day Zia Park meet, which ran September 7-December 3. During the meet, the track ran 296 New Mexico-bred races -- 200 for Thoroughbreds and 96 for Quarter Horses. By comparison, Zia Park carded 292 state-bred races -- 200 for Thoroughbreds and 92 for Quarter Horses -- during its 2012 season, which ran 54 days.
An average of 5.29 New Mexico-bred races per day were run during the 2013 Zia Park meet, a decrease of 2 percent from the 5.41 state-bred races per day contested during the track’s ’12 season.
Davis also reported that, during the first 16 days of Sunland Park meet, which opened on December 6, a total of 78 New Mexico-bred races were run, 52 for Thoroughbreds and 26 for Quarter Horses. By comparison, the track carded 97 state-bred races during the first 20 days of its 2012-13 season, 70 for Thoroughbreds and 27 for Quarter Horses.
An average of 4.88 New Mexico-bred races per day were run during the first 16 days of the current Sunland Park meet, a slight increase over the 4.85 state-bred races per day carded during the first 20 days of Sunland Park’s 2012-13 season.
In addition, Davis invited the commissioners to the NMHBA Annual Meeting and Zia Awards Banquet at the Albuquerque Uptown Marriott Hotel on Thursday, January 30.
“We were fortunate to get (Thoroughbred Hall of Fame trainer) Jack Van Berg here for the meeting, and he will be participating in a question-and-answer session with Chris Kotulak,” Davis reported. “Also, the owners of Handsome Jack Flash -- Debra Laney, Norma Alvarez, and Brenda Alvarez -- will give a presentation on what it’s like to have a New Mexico-bred winner of the All American Futurity.”
Also at the meeting, New Mexico Horsemen’s Association president Joe Dee Brooks of Levelland, Texas, introduced the organization’s new executive director, Eric Smith. A native of Battle Creek, Michigan, Smith has a degree in communications and political science from the University of Michigan (1990), and a degree in animal science (Race Track Industry Program) from the University of Arizona (2009).
“We have a lengthy project list for Eric to work on,” Brooks said. “Our goal is to have him spend more time at the tracks with our horsemen so he can get a better idea of the issues they’re facing.”
Also at the meeting:
*Sunland Park director of racing Dustin Dix reported that, through Sunday, total is handle is up 4 percent over a similar period from the track’s 2012-13 meet. Also, Sunland’s average field size was 8.79 head per race, compared to 8.76 during the same period last year.
“The recent bad weather in the east caused a lot of tracks to close, and that really helped our handle,” Dix said. “Last Tuesday, we and Turf Paradise were the only tracks running, and our off-track handle was $1.4 million. We also know that field size is important because large fields are what handicappers want.
*The commission approved Rick Thedford as Sunland Park clocker. Thedford replaces Angie Briggs, who resigned prior to the start of the meet.
*The commission approved changes in the wagering format for the 2014 Ruidoso Downs meet, which opens May 22. The track has added a Pick-3 wager at the beginning of its programs, and 75 percent of the net pool from Tri-Superfecta wagers will be carried over to the next day.
The next regular monthly commission meeting will be held on Thursday, February 20, 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.