Wednesday, November 30, 2011
The New Mexico Racing Commission held its monthly meeting at its headquarters in Albuquerque on Wednesday, November 30.
New Mexico Horse Breeders’ Association executive director Anna Fay Davis gave the commission her race-a-day reports for The Downs at Albuquerque and Zia Park. During The Downs at Albuquerque's 54-day meet, which ran August 13-November 13, the track ran 207 New Mexico-bred races – 110 for Thoroughbreds and 97 for Quarter Horses. By comparison, the track carded 220 state-bred races during its 56-day season in 2010, 130 for Thoroughbreds and 90 for Quarter Horses.
For purposes of comparison, The Downs at Albuquerque ran an average of 3.84 New Mexico-bred races during its 2011 meet, which represented a decrease of 2 percent from the average of 3.93 state-bred races contested during its 2010 meet.
Also, a total of 615 New Mexico-bred Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses ran in open overnight races during the 2011 Albuquerque meet, of which 182 (30 percent) finished first, second or third. Of this total, 97 were Thoroughbreds and 85 were Quarter Horses. Bonuses totaling $78,317.60 were paid to the owners of these horses.
The Downs at Albuquerque season included a 17-day New Mexico State Fair meet, which ran from September 2-25.
During the first 36 days of the Zia Park meet, September 11-November 8, the track ran 203 New Mexico-bred races, 142 for Thoroughbreds and 61 for Quarter Horses, marking an increase of nearly 12 percent from the 181 state-bred races Zia Park carded during the first 36 days of its 2010 season.
Also during the first 32 days of the Zia Park meet, a total of 204 New Mexico-breds raced in open overnight races, of which 44 (22 percent) finished first, second, or third. Of this total, three were Thoroughbreds and 41 were Quarter Horses. Bonuses totaling $42,988.40 were paid to the owners of these horses.
The 50-day Zia Park meet runs through Sunday, December 4.
Davis also reported that the NMHBA sent its owners', breeders', and stallion owners' awards checks out on Tuesday, November 29. Total award distribution reached $4,244,956.05, an increase of $9,208.75 over last year. Of that total, $3,205,085.86 – or 75 percent – was derived from racino gaming revenues. Also, a total of 2,237 checks were distributed, compared to 1,909 the previous year.
Also at the meeting, commission co-chair Beverly Bourguet and interim executive director Vince Mares reported on the recent walk-through at Sunland Park Racetrack, which opens its 77-day season on December 6. Mares pointed out the improvements to the track's paddock and jockeys' quarters, which has been completely refurnished with new sofas, chairs, and tables.
Bourguet also announced that the commission's next rules committee meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 24, the day before the next scheduled commission meeting.
New Mexico Horsemen's Association executive director Jack McGrail reported to the commission about The Downs at Albuquerque's 2011 meet. McGrail began by commending track general manager Don Cook and track superintendent Tony Martinez on the condition of the racing surface, and he publicly congratulated Jose A. Gonzalez, a member of the NMHA state board, for winning the season training title.
“Now that the State Fair board has awarded a new lease to the Downs, we look forward to working with track management to create an environment that is good for racing and gaming,” McGrail added. He also told the commission that he is working with SunRay Park director of racing Lonnie Barber on the track's 2012 opening and closing dates, with a goal of closing the time gap between the closing of SunRay and the opening of the stable area at The Downs at Albuquerque.
Regarding Zia Park, McGrail said that he felt the condition of the track's racing surface is better than it was last year. He also noted the success of New Mexico Cup Day, which featured 11 stakes races restricted to New Mexico-breds on October 30.
“New Mexico Cup day offered competitive races with full fields, and full fields contribute to larger (wagering) handle,” McGrail said. “We horsemen want full fields because they contribute to higher revenue, and we're going to continue to work with (Zia Park director of racing) Mike Shamburg and (racing secretary) Fred Hutton to get full fields at Zia Park.”
Also, Zia Park assistant general manager Rick Baugh reported that handle on his track's live races is up 11 percent over 2010. Through Monday, November 28, the track's average field size was 8.7 horses per race.
The commission also approved Ed L'Ecuyer, David Keiter, and Kenneth Hart as the board of stewards for the 2011-12 meet at Sunland Park. It also approved Dr. Steven England as Sunland Park's state veterinarian.
The next commission meeting will be held at the commission's headquarters in Albuquerque on Wednesday, January 25. The executive session will begin at 8:30 a.m., followed by a public session at 10:30. For more information, contact the commission at (505) 222-0700, or visit the commission's website at www.nmrc.state.nm.us.