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Report from June 2017 NM Racing Commission Meeting
RSS Feeds Thursday, June 15, 2017
The New Mexico Racing Commission held its monthly meeting at its headquarters in Albuquerque on Thursday, June 15.
New Mexico Horse Breeders’ Association executive director Anna Fay Davis gave the commission the race-a-day report for the first 28 days of the SunRay Park meet, which opened April 21. During this period, the track carded 74 New Mexico-bred races, 42 for Thoroughbreds and 32 for Quarter Horses. By comparison, SunRay Park carded 64 state-bred races -- 34 for Thoroughbreds and 30 for Quarter Horses -- during the first 28 days of its 2016 meet.
An average of 2.64 New Mexico-bred races per day have been run during the first 28 days of the SunRay Park meet, an increase of 15 percent over the 2.29 state-bred races per day contested during the first 28 days of the track’s 2016 season.
“I don’t think we’ll get the average of New Mexico-bred races per day above 3 (at SunRay Park), but we are certainly better than where we were during the same period last year,” said Ms. Davis.
Also, during the first 19 days of the SunRay Park season, a total of 308 New Mexico-breds have competed in open overnight races, of which 106 (34 percent) finished first, second, or third. Of this total, 50 were Thoroughbreds and 56 were Quarter Horses. Bonuses totaling $51,523.50 were paid to the owners of these horses.
Ms. Davis added that, during the first 28 days of its 2017 season, SunRay Park has carded 64 New Mexico-bred overnight races.
“There were 528 New Mexico-breds that were scheduled to participate in these races,” she reported. “This is an average of 8.25 New Mexico-breds per race.”
SunRay Park’s 36-day meet runs through June 19.
Ms. Davis also gave the commission the race-a-day report for the first eight days of the Ruidoso Downs meet, which opened May 26. During this period, the track carded 32 New Mexico-bred races, 14 for Thoroughbreds and 18 for Quarter Horses. By comparison, Ruidoso Downs carded 28 state-bred races -- 11 for Thoroughbreds and 17 for Quarter Horses -- during the first eight days of its 2016 meet.
An average of 4 New Mexico-bred races per day have been run during the first eight days of the Ruidoso Downs meet, an increase of 14 percent over the 3.5 state-bred races per day during the first eight days of the track’s 2016 season.
Ms. Davis added that, during the first eight days of its 2017 season, Ruidoso Downs has carded 20 New Mexico-bred overnight races.
“There were 165 New Mexico-breds that were scheduled to participate in these races,” she said. “This is an average of 8.25 New Mexico-breds per race.”
Ruidoso Downs’ 52-day meet runs through Labor Day, September 4.
In addition, Ms. Davis distributed the 2017 version of the NMHBA’s marketing brochure. The foldout brochure points out the history of horse racing in New Mexico and the NMHBA’s mission statement, and it includes a membership application.

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Commission vice chair Gayla McCulloch of Farmington reported on the commission’s race dates committee meeting, which was held on June 14.
“The meeting went well, and all race dates (for 2018) were settled except for SunRay Park,” she said. “SunRay had originally applied for a 36-day season but shortened their request to 33.
“(Ruidoso Downs executive) Shaun Hubbard brought up the concept of purse-sharing between tracks, which wasn’t supported,” Ms. McCulloch added. “We also discussed the possibility of eliminating overlaps so we don’t have more than one track racing at a time. We also talked about having enough horses to fill our races, acknowledging that foal crops have declined.
“We have to fight these issues every year,” she said. “If we are going to thrive as an industry, we are going to have to look at things differently in the future.”
Commission chairman Ray Willis of Roswell said that the New Mexico racing industry has a chance to improve its product and should take advantage of the opportunity.
“Texas has issues, and so does California,” Mr. Willis said. “We have year-round racing in our state. We have several good opportunities, and now is a good time to take advantage of them. It’s the mission of this commission to make sure racing is beneficial to all stakeholders.”
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The following race dates were approved for 2018:
*Sunland Park (72 days), December 15-April 17
*SunRay Park (33 days), April 21-June 18. The meet will last nine weeks, with the track running three days a week for the first weekend, and three days per week for the last two weekends.
*Ruidoso Downs (47 days), May 25-September 3. The track will run a four days during its first weekend, which includes the Memorial Day holiday, and four days during its final weekend, which includes the Labor Day holiday. The rest of the meet will consist of three-day weeks.
*Albuquerque Downs (38 days), June 29-September 1
*New Mexico State Fair at Albuquerque Downs (17 days), September 2-23.
*Zia Park (56 days), September 8-December 11
“Going forward, I think we should have race dates committee meetings every month, or at least every two months,” Ms. McCulloch said. “If we don’t get on top of these issues we have, then I guarantee we’ll be going through the same things next year.”

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New Mexico Horsemen’s Association (www.newmexicohorsemen.com) executive director Pat Bingham reported that the economic impact study currently being conducted by the University of New Mexico’s economics department will be conducted in two stages.
“The first stage will focus on the horse racing industry’s current impact on the state’s economy,” Mr. Bingham said. “The second stage will look at future impacts and project where we might be five, 10, even 15 years from now. We expect the first part of the impact study to come out in September.”
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Commission executive director Ismael “Izzy” Trejo gave the commission his monthly report.
“I was at Ruidoso Downs last weekend, and they had a great weekend of racing with the rarity of two dead heats (for the win) in two Grade 1 races in two days,” he said. “I also visited SunRay Park recently and had an informal chat with horsemen. I met with (general manager) Brad (Boehm) and (director of racing) Lonnie (Barber) and sat in the racing office and saw how they had to scramble to fill a nine-race card. I watched the race office staff hustle and the horseman come through to make the card go.”
Mr. Trejo also reported on the preseason walk-through at Albuquerque Downs, which opens its 58-day meet on June 24.
“The stewards’ office has been renovated, and it’s plain to see that (track president) Paul Blanchard has invested much of the track’s profits back into the facility,” he added. “I’m optimistic that it will be a great meet.”
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Also at the meeting:
*The commission announced its schedule of regular monthly meetings for the rest of the year. All meetings will be held in Albuquerque unless otherwise noted:
Thursday, July 13 (at Ruidoso Downs)
Thursday, August 17
Thursday, September 14
Thursday, October 12
Thursday, November 16.
*The commission approved the establishment of a race review committee consisting of Jerry Nicodemus, Harold Payne, Kenneth Hart, and Dr. Scot Waterman (alternate), whose purpose will be to review race appeals before they are brought to the full five-member commission.
*The commission approved Dr. Alan Chastain to serve as its out-of-competition veterinarian and Dr. Scot Waterman to serve as its equine medical director for Fiscal Year 2018.
*The commission approved Dr. Rodney Taylor to serve as state veterinarian for the 58-day Albuquerque Downs/New Mexico State Fair meet, which runs June 24-September 24.
*The commission approved Sunland Park’s 2017-18 stakes schedule, which will basically be the same as last year. The only major exception will be that the New Mexico State Racing Commission Stakes (R) purse will be increased to $100,000 and will be run on Sunland Derby Day, March 25. The La Coneja Stakes (R) for fillies and mares will be moved from Sunland Derby Day to March 17.
*SunRay Park director of racing Lonnie Barber discussed his track’s difficulty filling races during its 2017 meet.
“We had to cancel two stakes due to lack of entries, and we ran one New Mexico-bred 2-year-old stakes with six head -- five first-time starters and one maiden,” he said. “We’re going to take a look at our stakes schedule for next year. We’re going to meet with the horsemen and breeders to see what we can do to get these races to fill.
“We’re looking at maybe going to a Saturday-through-Tuesday schedule for next year, and maybe switching our all-Quarter Horse day to either Saturdays or Sundays,” Mr. Barber added.

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The next New Mexico Racing Commission monthly meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 13, at Ruidoso Downs. 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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