Friday, June 06, 2014
The New Mexico Racing Commission held its monthly meeting at its headquarters in Albuquerque on Thursday, May 15.
New Mexico Horse Breeders’ Association executive director Anna Fay Davis gave the commission her final race-a-day report for Sunland Park, which ended its 76-day season on April 15. During the meet, the track ran 374 New Mexico-bred races -- 262 for Thoroughbreds and 112 for Quarter Horses. By comparison, Sunland Park carded 369 state-bred races -- 262 for Thoroughbreds and 107 for Quarter Horses -- during its 2012-13 season.
An average of 4.93 New Mexico-bred races per day were run during the Sunland Park meet, an increase of 1.4 percent over the 4.86 state-bred races per day contested during the track’s 2012-13 season.
Also, during 2013-14 Sunland Park meet, a total of 635 New Mexico-breds competed in open overnight races, of which 162 (26 percent) finished first, second, or third. Of this total, 60 were Thoroughbreds and 102 were Quarter Horses. Bonuses totaling $120,582.30 were paid to the owners of these horses.
By comparison, 598 state-breds raced in open overnight races during the 2012-13 Sunland meet, of which 125 (21 percent) finished first, second or third.
Davis also gave the commission the race-a-day report for the first 12 days of the SunRay Park meet, which opened April 18. Through May 6, SunRay ran 39 New Mexico-bred races -- 26 for Thoroughbreds and 13 for Quarter Horses. By comparison, the track ran 39 state-bred races -- 25 for Thoroughbreds and 14 for Quarter Horses -- during the first 12 days of its 2013 season.
Also, during the first four days of the SunRay Park meet, a total of 39 New Mexico-breds competed in open overnight races, of which nine (23 percent) ran first, second, or third. Of this total, six were Thoroughbreds and three were Quarter Horses. Bonuses totaling $3,311.80 were paid to the owners of these horses.
Also at the meeting, commission co-chair Beverly Bourguet of Albuquerque reported on a pre-meet track inspection and safety meeting she attended at Ruidoso Downs, which opened its 61-day season on May 22. Others in attendance at the meeting included commissioner Ray Willis of Roswell, commission investigator Leasa Johnson, and New Mexico Horsemen’s Association executive director Eric Smith.
“I was pleased to see that everything was in healthy condition,” Bourguet said. “I heard positive reports from the training races the track held; there were no complaints from jockeys or horsemen about the condition of the track.
“I was also impressed with the renovation of the track’s receiving barn,” she added. “It was in excellent condition. Also, the track provided horsemen with paint and materials so they could refurbish their barns.”
Commenting on the Ruidoso Downs inspection, Smith said that he too was pleased with the renovation of the track’s receiving barn, which he said had been an issue of concern with the local horsemen’s committee.
Smith also expressed concern about reports of non-sanctioned match racing that was taking place near the New Mexico communities of San Felipe, Los Lunas, and Anthony.
“We realize that the commission has limited jurisdiction over this, but it is an area of concern to us,” Smith added. “Along with the appropriate law enforcement agencies, we will do anything we can to address this issue.”
Smith also discussed the updated track ratings recently released by the Horseplayers Association of North America (www.horseplayersassociation.org), a non-profit organization formed and incorporated in 2008 to represent the interests of handicappers and bettors.
Smith noted that, of the 64 tracks rated, New Mexico’s five tracks were rated 30th (Sunland Park), 57th (Zia Park), 58th (SunRay Park), 60th (Ruidoso Downs), and 61st (The Downs at Albuquerque). HANA’s ratings are based on, among other things, parimutuel takeout rates, average field size, and signal distribution.
“This organization has shown an ability to affect handle through promotions and boycotts; they are becoming increasingly more influential in the industry,” Smith said. “We think our product is better than a lot of the tracks rated higher than ours, but we need to do what we can to increase the ratings of our tracks.”
Also, Smith said that the NMHA’s website (www.newmexicohorsemen.com) has been revised and updated. The site features a blog, calendar of events, and a photo gallery.
In addition, Smith noted that the NMHA is working on an internal medication policy based on a point system, similar to that implemented by the American Quarter Horse Association.
“It will impose sanctions on members when a certain number of points are reached,” he added. “We feel this might be able to keep habitual offenders in check. For example, without (NMHA) membership in good standing, these habitual offenders might no longer be covered under our insurance policies.”
Also at the meeting, commission inspector Melodie Ryan reported on a pre-race inspection of SunRay Park in Farmington, which was held on April 8. In addition to Ryan, those in attendance included SunRay Park director of racing Lonnie Barber, racing secretary Jim Collins, Smith, and commissioner Gayla McCulloch of Farmington.
“The condition of the jockeys’ room was satisfactory, and the scales had been certified,” Ryan reported. “We looked at the barn area, and the horse paths were clear. The stall floors were level with no large depressions, and the test barn was in good shape.
Ryan added that steward Ruben Rivera had met with the track’s racing officials and reviewed their duties.
Also at the meeting:
*The commission voted to approve Connie Estes to replace Ken Walker as a steward during the Ruidoso Downs meet. Estes was previously a steward with the Texas Racing Commission and worked in that capacity at the track’s three Class 1 tracks, Lone Star Park, Sam Houston Race Park, and Retama Park.
*The commission set dates for its meetings for the second half of the current year. The meetings will be held July 17, August 21, September 25, October 16, and November 20. All of the meetings will be held in Albuquerque.
*The commission approved the purse structure and stakes schedule for the 54-day Downs at Albuquerque meet, which runs August 2-October 26 and includes a 17-day New Mexico State Fair season in September.
*The commission approved Zia Park’s capital improvement priority list. “We had some mechanical issues with our back-up human ambulance, so we’re going to obtain a new one, which would serve as our primary ambulance, and last year’s primary ambulance will serve as our back-up,” Zia Park director of racing Fred Hutton told the commission.
Hutton added that the lighting and public address system in Zia Park’s barn area will be improved, and a grandstand apron canopy will be added to shield patrons from the sun. Also, betting carrels and television monitors have been updated in the turf club.
*Hutton also mentioned that Zia Park is looking for a new racing secretary for its meet, which runs September 6-December 2.
*The commission approved the appointment of Donald Eikleberry as the new head clocker at Ruidoso Downs, and it approved the track’s $1-million jockey/exercise rider insurance policy.
The next regular monthly commission meeting will be held on Thursday, June 26, 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.