Monday, September 26, 2011
The New Mexico Racing Commission held its monthly meeting at its headquarters in Albuquerque on Thursday, September 22.
New Mexico Horse Breeders’ Association executive director Anna Fay Davis gave the commission her race-a-day reports for the 60-day Ruidoso Downs meet, which ended on September 5, The Downs at Albuquerque, whose 54-day season opened on August 13, and Zia Park, which opened its 50-day meet on September 10.
During the Ruidoso meet, the track ran 235 New Mexico-bred races – 154 for Thoroughbreds and 81 for Quarter Horses. By comparison, Ruidoso Downs carded 239 state-bred races during its 2010 season, 149 for Thoroughbreds and 90 for Quarter Horses.
For purposes of comparison, Ruidoso ran an average of 3,92 New Mexico-bred races its 2011 meet, which is a decrease of nearly 2 percent from the average of 3.99 state-bred races contested during the 2010 meet.
Also, a total of 593 New Mexico-bred Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses ran in open overnight races during the Ruidoso meet, of which 184 (31 percent) finished first, second, or third. Of this total, 105 were Thoroughbreds and 79 were Quarter Horses. Bonuses totaling $80,727.60 were paid to the owners of these horses.
By comparison, a total of 493 state-breds competed in open races during the 2010 Ruidoso Downs season, of which 147 (30 percent) ran first, second, or third. Of this total, 67 were Thoroughbreds and 80 were Quarter Horses, and bonuses totaling $61,313 were paid to the owners of these horses.
During the first 21 days of The Downs at Albuquerque meet, August 13-September 16, the track ran 82 New Mexico-bred races, 42 for Thoroughbreds and 40 for Quarter Horses. To compare, the track ran 96 state-bred races, 54 for Thoroughbreds and 42 for Quarter Horses, during the first 21 days of its 2010 season.
Also, during the first 15 days of the Albuquerque meet a total of 173 New Mexico-breds raced in open overnight races, of which 52 (30 percent) finished first, second or third. Of this total, 21 were Thoroughbreds and 31 were Quarter Horses. Bonuses totaling $23,634.20 were paid to the owners of these horses.
During the first 15 days of the 2010 Downs at Albuquerque meet, 139 state-breds raced in open overnight races, of which 28 (21 percent) finished first, second, or third. Of this total, eight were Thoroughbreds and 20 were Quarter Horses. Bonuses of $12,146.60 were paid to the owners of these horses.
The Downs at Albuquerque season runs through November 13.
During the first four days of the Zia Park meet, which runs through December 4, the track carded 23 New Mexico-bred overnight races, 16 for Thoroughbreds and seven for Quarter Horses. This compares to the 29 state-bred overnight races – 18 for Thoroughbreds and 11 for Quarter Horses – that Zia Park offered during the first six days of its 2010 meet.
For purposes of comparison, Zia Park carded an average of 5.75 New Mexico-bred overnight races during the first four days of its current meet, which is an increase of 19 percent over the average of 4.84 state-bred overnight races the track carded during the first six days of its '10 season.
Davis also said that the NMHBA will be donating pink logo caps for the two Breast Cancer Awareness Days scheduled for October 15 at The Downs at Albuquerque and October 29, the day before New Mexico Cup Day, at Zia Park. Jamie Zamora will be the coordinator for both events.
Also at the meeting, commissioner Ray Willis discussed a recent walk-through inspection he attended with horsemen representatives at Zia Park.
“Everything was in good shape – the only concern that horsemen expressed was with the track condition,” Willis said. “Zia Park had their track consultant there, and he answered questions and discussed plans for track maintenance.
“I think horsemen are fairly satisfied,” he added. “I haven't heard any complaints since the meet opened.”
Willis also announced that the next commission medication committee meeting will be held on October 26, and commission vice-chair Beverly Bourguet reported that the next rules committee meeting will be held on the same date.
During his monthly report to the commission, New Mexico Horsemen's Association executive director Jack McGrail said that, while horsemen were generally pleased with the progress of The Downs at Albuquerque meet, some expressed concern that the track's Lineage Day program on August 21 wasn't promoted as aggressively as in year's past.
“I spoke with (track general manager) Don Cook about this, and I think this issue will be addressed before next year's Lineage Day,” McGrail added.
McGrail also discussed the progress of the current Zia Park meet, and he added that the NMHA is monitoring the issue of the condition of the track.
“It's too early in the meet to make an assessment,” he said. “But I'm encouraged that when there are concerns, track management works immediately to address them.”
Finally, McGrail told the commission that the NMHA is pleased that it is working aggressively to resolve the issue of the sixth racino license.
“The horsemen are being held hostage by the slow process because we're losing opportunities to race,” he said. “We would like the process to move along faster.”
Jockeys' Guild regional manager John Beech told the commission that jockey Jacky Martin, who was injured at Ruidoso Downs on September 2, is currently at a rehabilitation center in Houston, Texas. He also announced that the Guild is holding a Jacky Martin Day at racetracks across the country on Saturday, October 8, during which riders will be wearing special stickers on the sides of their boots and encouraging donations to the Jacky Martin Fund.
Beech also announced that jockey Jesse Jimenez Garcia rode his 2,000th winner at The Downs at Albuquerque on September 21. Since he began his career in 1981, Garcia has had 16,649 mounts, and his mounts' purse earnings total more than $18.7 million.
Also, the commission unanimously approved several rule changes related to medications and prohibited substances, penalty recommendations (in the absence of mitigating circumstances), medical labeling, physical inspection of horses, and a new “Solo-6” wager that Sunland Park plans to begin offering during its 2011-12 meet, which runs December 6-April 17.
The Solo-6 wager is similar to what was offered at Gulfstream Park (Rainbow-6) during the Florida track's 2011 meet. It is similar to a traditional Pick-6 in that it requires the selection of the first-place finisher in each of the six designated races, but there is one major exception – for a bettor to collect the jackpot pool, there must be only one perfect ticket selecting all six tickets. If there is more than one, then those with perfect tickets will share in the minor share of the pool, with the major share added to a carryover.
Sunland Park director of racing Dustin Dix told the commission that the idea of the wager is to get a large carryover going until the end of the meet.
“After the Sunland Derby in late March, we see national interest in our meet start to wane,” he added. “Hopefully, this will keep interest high until the end of our season.”
The commission also approved the appointment of Fred Hutton as the new racing secretary at Zia Park. Prior to this year, Hutton served as the racing secretary for several years at Remington Park in Oklahoma City.
And, Ruidoso Downs has added one day to its 2012 season, which opens on Friday, May 25. The extra day will be added during the week of the Fourth of July, which falls on a Wednesday next year.
Also, it was announced that Shaun Hubbard is Ruidoso Downs' new general manager. Jean Stoddard, who had been the acting general manager following the resignation of Ann McGovern in 2010, will resume her position of assistant general manager.
Hubbard was asked by commissioner Bourguet about his goals for the racetrack.
“For a long time, we've had a good Triple Crown for Quarter Horse racing – we'd like to build on that and make it even better,” Hubbard said. “Another of our goals is to improve the quality of our Thoroughbred races, including increasing purses and field sizes.”
The next commission meeting will be held at the commission's headquarters in Albuquerque on Thursday, October 27, seven days later than the originally scheduled date. 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.