Monday, November 04, 2013
The New Mexico Racing Commission held its monthly meeting at its headquarters in Albuquerque on Thursday, October 31.
New Mexico Horse Breeders’ Association executive director Anna Fay Davis gave the commission her race-a-day report for the first 39 days of The Downs at Albuquerque meet, which opened on August 2 and ended October 30. During the first 39 days of the meet, the track ran 129 New Mexico-bred races -- 72 for Thoroughbreds and 57 for Quarter Horses. By comparison, The Downs at Albuquerque carded 159 state-bred races -- 90 for Thoroughbreds and 69 for Quarter Horses -- during the first 38 days of its 2012 season.
An average of 3.31 New Mexico-bred races per day were run during the first 39 days of the Albuquerque meet, a decrease of 21 percent from the 4.19 state-bred races per day contested during the first 38 days of the track’s ‘12 season.
Also, during the first 24 days of the Albuquerque meet, a total of 231 New Mexico-breds competed in open overnight races, of which 70 (31 percent) finished first, second, or third. Of this total, 39 were Thoroughbreds and 31 were Quarter Horses. Bonuses totaling $25,660.40 were paid to the owners of these horses.
Davis also reported that, during the first 20 days of Zia Park meet, which opened on September 7, a total of 106 New Mexico-bred races were run, 74 for Thoroughbreds and 32 for Quarter Horses. By comparison, the track carded 96 state-bred races during the first 18 days of its 2012 season, 72 for Thoroughbreds and 24 for Quarter Horses.
An average of 5.30 New Mexico-bred races per day were run during the first 20 days of this year's Zia Park meet, a decrease of less than 1 percent from the 5.34 state-bred races per day carded during the first 18 days of Zia Park's 2012 season.
During the 60-day Ruidoso Downs meet, which ran May 24-September 2, a total of 602 New Mexico-breds raced in open overnight races, of which 193 (32 percent) finished first, second, or third. Of this total, 108 were Thoroughbreds and 85 were Quarter Horses. Bonuses totaling $88,208.20 were paid to the owners of these horses.
Also, Davis thanked The Downs at Albuquerque assistant general manager Beth McKinney for her cooperation during the Bernalillo County 4-H Day at the Races on September 28, management at Double LL Farm in Bosque for its cooperation during the NMHBA legislative reception at the farm on October 19, and Zia Park director of racing and racing secretary Fred Hutton for his cooperation during the $2-million New Mexico Cup day of racing on October 28.
Also at the meeting, commissioner Ray Willis of Roswell reported on the commission’s medication committee meeting held on October 16. Willis said that the committee discussed several issues, including out-of-competition testing, shockwave therapy, and the use of therapeutic medications, including clenbuterol.
Willis added that the committee didn’t take any definitive action on these issues during that meeting, but that it would continue discussing them at future meetings.
New Mexico Horsemen’s Association board member Dick Cappelucci updated the commission on the NHMA’s search for an executive director. The position came open last summer, when former executive director Jack McGrail resigned to take a position as executive director of the Oregon Racing Commission.
“We have four candidates for the position, three of whom I’d consider solid candidates,” Cappelucci said. “We have two-hour interviews scheduled with all the candidates in November, and we hope to make a decision in time for (the commission’s) December or January meeting.”
Cappelucci added that the NMHA is working on several issues, including an attempt to reduce the cost of jockey-exercise rider accident insurance to the association and the state’s racetracks.
“Penn National is able to get insurance as a package for all of its tracks and can get it for lower premiums,” he said. “What we’d like to do is get an umbrella policy for all five of our tracks, then have the tracks reimburse us for their share of the premiums.”
Cappelucci also had good things to say about the condition of the racing surface at Zia Park.
“The track surface has been excellent to this point of the season, and the organic material they have added to it has contributed to its excellent condition,” he added. “Hopefully, we won’t get any freezes before the meet ends in December.”
NMRC executive director Vince Mares said that the commission is working on a policy that would allow mid-season inspections of the state’s five racetracks.
“We do pre-season inspections of all the tracks, but to make sure the tracks are still in compliance in the middle of their meets, we’d like to make mid-season inspections standard practice,” Mares added.
Mares also discussed the issue of fingerprint procedures for NMHA license applicants. At one time, license applicants could get fingerprinted at racetracks, but new procedures enacted by the New Mexico Dept. of Public Safety requires applicants to get fingerprinted at specific locations throughout the state.
“This new procedure makes the process longer and more inconvenient, but this isn’t a Racing Commission policy, it’s a DPS policy,” Mares said. “Until the racetracks have their fingerprint machines in place, applicants will have to go to a specified site to get fingerprinted.”
Commission chairman Rob Doughty III of Albuquerque suggested that a committee be formed to help workout these fingerprinting issues. Sunland Park director of racing Dustin Dix said that his track is working on becoming a fingerprinting site.
“With the closest site being in Las Cruces, we recognize that’s going to be a problem for our owners, trainers, and grooms,” Dix added.
Also at the commission meeting:
*The commission rescheduled its November meeting, originally scheduled for November 21, to Thursday, December 5.
*The commission approved Sunland Park’s jockey and exercise rider insurance, trainer information packet, and horsemen’s guide. The track opens its 76-day meet on Friday, December 6.
*Zia Park director of racing Fred Hutton reported that his track has reversed a downward trend in average field size during the first 26 days of its current meet.
“Our handle is down 1 percent after the first eight weeks,” he added. “But with our Land of Enchantment weekend coming up (November 23-24), we have some nice momentum coming up, and we hope that will help us reverse that handle decrease.”
Zia Park’s first-ever Land of Enchantment weekend will feature seven stakes races, five for Thoroughbreds and two graded stakes for Quarter Horses. The feature race of the weekend will be the inaugural running of the 1 1/16-mile, $300,000 Zia Park Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.
*The commission approved Steve Fedunak to be the mutuel and simulcast operations manager at SunRay Park. A graduate of the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program, Fedunak previously served as mutuel dept. manager at Sunland Park.
*The commission retroactively approved The Downs at Albuquerque’s 12-race programs on September 21-22. The extra races made up for the weather-related cancellations at the track on September 15-16.
The next regular monthly commission meeting will be held on Thursday, December 5, 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 www.nmrc.state.nm.us, or call (505) 222-0700.