Thursday, June 21, 2012
The New Mexico Racing Commission held its monthly meeting at its headquarters in Albuquerque on Thursday, June 21.
New Mexico Horse Breeders’ Association executive director Anna Fay Davis gave the commission her race-a-day reports for SunRay Park, which opened its 2012 meet on April 20, and Ruidoso Downs, which began its summer season on May 25. During the first 29 days of SunRay's 42-day season, the track ran 115 New Mexico-bred races – 82 for Thoroughbreds and 33 for Quarter Horses. By comparison, the track carded the same number of state-bred races during the first 28 days of its 2011 meet, 78 for Thoroughbreds and 35 for Quarter Horses.
An average of 3.97 New Mexico-bred races per day have been run during the first 29 days of SunRay Park's meet, which represents an 3-percent decrease over the average of 4.11 state-bred races per day contested during the first 28 days of the track's 2011 season.
Also, during the first 20 days of the SunRay meet, a total of 212 New Mexico-breds competed in open overnight races, of which 62 (30 percent) finished first, second, or third. Of this total, 33 were Thoroughbreds and 29 were Quarter Horses. Bonuses totaling $38,904.60 were paid to the owners of these horses.
SunRay Park's meet runs through next Tuesday, June 26.
Meanwhile, Ruidoso Downs ran 50 New Mexico-bred races during the first 12 days of its meet, 31 for Thoroughbreds and 19 for Quarter Horses. By comparison, the track carded 32 state-bred races – 18 for Thoroughbreds and 14 for Quarter Horses – during the first eight days of its 2011 season.
An average of 4.17 New Mexico-bred races per day have been contested during the first 12 days of the Ruidoso meet, which represents a 4-percent increase over the average of 4 state-bred races per day run during the first eight days of the track's '11 season.
In addition, a total of 16 New Mexico-breds competed in open overnight races during the first four days of the Ruidoso Downs meet, of which six (38 percent) finished first, second, or third . Of this total, three were Thoroughbreds and three were Quarter Horses. Bonuses totaling $2,012.20 were paid to the owners of these horses.
Davis also cited the accomplishments of PJ Chick In Black, an undefeated 2-year-old registered New Mexico-bred who scored a victory against open company in the $600,000 Ruidoso Futurity (G1) on June 9.
“We're always excited about a New Mexico-bred horse who wins such a major race like this,” she added. “We'd like to congratulate all the owners of New Mexico-bred Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses who win open races.”
Commissioner Gayla McCulloch of Farmington discussed the commission's special racing industry task force, which held its first meeting on Wednesday. The idea of this task force was originated by NMHBA president Q. Mike Cadotte.
“Mike thinks it's important that all stakeholders in the industry meet regularly so that we speak with one unified voice,” McCullouch said. “At our first meeting, we talked about funding for supplemental testing, and we discussed the possibility of charging a per-start fee to get the fund started. Representatives from Sunland Park and The Downs at Albuquerque said they would allow us to use their lobbyists at the capitol to help us get any changes to legislation we might need.
“We also discussed ways to better use the technology we currently have,” she added.
Commissioner McCulloch also commented on a recent SunRay Park safety meeting she attended.
“Horsemen have been mostly happy about the condition of the track,” she said. “The one concern they had was that the track be maintained between the end of the meet and the beginning of The Downs at Albuquerque meet (on August 10), and we were assured by management that it will be.”
In his monthly report to the commission, New Mexico Horsemen's Association executive director Jack McGrail said that horsemen had few complaints about the condition of the racing surface at SunRay Park. However, he did express concern about the ratio of Thoroughbred to Quarter Horse races at the track, which he said hasn't been close to the 60/40 split that most tracks strive to maintain.
“Our goal is to keep a 60/40 ratio of Thoroughbred to Quarter Horse races, excluding trials,” McGrail told the commission. “But so far, 221 Thoroughbred races and 124 Quarter Horse races have been run. Many of our horsemen have both Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses, so we'd like that ratio to be as close to 60/40 as possible.”
McGrail also discussed the recent adjustment to SunRay Park's racing schedule in May, which decreased the number of races per day from 11 to nine.
“We've lost a total of 62 races – that's a significant number – and the impact will be felt by horsemen in the northern part of the state,” he said. “After the SunRay meet ends, these horsemen will have a gap between June 26 and the start of the Albuquerque meet on August 10 before they can race again. As we get into our (2013) race-date committee meetings, this will be an issue we'll need to address. Our owners can't stay in the game if they don't have opportunities to race.”
Also at the commission meeting:
**Executive director Vince Mares told attendees that the commission has been a member of the Association of Racing Commissioners International since June 6. Mares said he has already participated in three teleconferences, and he acknowledged that all five of the state's racetracks and the New Mexico Horse Breeders' Association helped pay the prorated membership fee for 2012.
**Mares also said that the commission was in the process of redesigning its website to “make it more user-friendly.”
**The dates were set for the remainder of this year's commission meetings. They are – Thursday, July 19 at Ruidoso Downs; Thursday, August 23 in Albuquerque; Friday, September 14 in Albuquerque; Thursday, October 18 at Zia Park Racetrack in Hobbs; and Thursday, November 15 in Albuquerque. There is no regular monthly meeting in December.
**Sunland Park general manager Harold Payne announced that, for the track's 76-day 2012-13 meet, the name of the Borderland Derby will be changed to the Mine That Bird Stakes, and the distance of the Riley Allison Futurity has been increased from 6 ½ furlongs to one mile.
The Borderland Derby name change honors Mine That Bird, a New Mexico-based gelding who raced at Sunland Park before he won the 2009 Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs. Payne also said that there is $600,000 less in Sunland's purse account than there was last year at this time, as the track's casino and simulcast revenues are down, so overnight purses were cut 3 percent and stakes purses were cut 5 percent in the first condition book.
**The commission approved Ruidoso Downs request to move the date of the $700,000 Rainbow Futurity (G1) and $20,000 Rainbow Juvenile Overnight Stakes from Saturday, July 21 to Sunday, July 22. Ruidoso Downs assistant general manager Jean Stoddard also announced that the track will host a “Pink Day” on Saturday, June 30, to promote breast cancer awareness.
**The commission also approved several rule changes. For specific information on the rule changes, contact the commission at (505) 222-0700, or visit www.nmrc.state.nm.us.
The next regular monthly commission meeting will be held on Thursday, July 19, at Ruidoso Downs Racetrack. 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 at (505) 222-0700.