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Report from September 2017 NM Racing Commission Meeting
RSS Feeds Monday, October 2, 2017
The New Mexico Racing Commission held its monthly meeting at its headquarters in Albuquerque on Thursday, September 14.
New Mexico Horse Breeders’ Association executive director Anna Fay Davis gave the commission the race-a-day report for the 52-day Ruidoso Downs meet, which ran May 26-September 4. During the Ruidoso meet, the track carded 184 New Mexico-bred races, 107 for Thoroughbreds and 77 for Quarter Horses. By comparison, Ruidoso Downs carded 197 state-bred races -- 121 for Thoroughbreds and 76 for Quarter Horses, during its 59-day season in 2016.
An average of 3.54 New Mexico-bred races per day were run during the 2017 Ruidoso Downs meet, an increase of 6 percent over the 3.34 state-bred races per day during the track’s 2016 season.
Also during the first 42 days of the Ruidoso meet, a total of 334 New Mexico-breds competed in open overnight races, of which 131 (39 percent) finished first, second, or third. Of this total, 83 were Thoroughbreds and 48 were Quarter Horses. Bonuses totaling $49,829 were paid to the owners of these horses.
Ms. Davis added that, during the Ruidoso Downs meet, the track carded 134 New Mexico-bred overnight races.
“There were 995 New Mexico-breds that were scheduled to participate in these races,” she reported. “This is an average of 7.43 New Mexico-breds per race.”
Ms. Davis also gave the commission the race-a-day report for the first 40 days of the Albuquerque Downs meet, which opened June 24. During this period, the track carded 137 New Mexico-bred races, 92 for Thoroughbreds and 45 for Quarter Horses. By comparison, Albuquerque Downs carded 151 state-bred races -- 99 for Thoroughbreds and 52 for Quarter Horses -- during the first 43 days of its 2016 season.
An average of 3.43 New Mexico-bred races per day have been run during the first 40 days of the 2017 Albuquerque Downs meet, a slight decrease from the 3.51 state-bred races per day during the first 43 days of the track’s 2016 season.
Also, during the first 32 days of the Albuquerque meet, a total of 356 New Mexico-breds competed in open overnight races, of which 106 (30 percent) finished first, second, or third. Of this total, 34 were Thoroughbreds and 72 were Quarter Horses. Bonuses totaling $71,696.40were paid to the owners of these horses.
Ms. Davis added that, during the first 40 days of the Albuquerque Downs meet, the track carded 134 New Mexico-bred overnight races.
“There were 1,228 New Mexico-breds that were scheduled to participate in these races,” she said. “This is an average of 9.16 New Mexico-breds per race.”

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During his presentation to the commission, New Mexico Horsemen’s Association (www.newmexicohorsemen.com) executive director Pat Bingham briefly discussed the meeting the association’s board had with new Ruidoso Downs Racetrack general manager Jeff True.
“We believe his experience in and knowledge of the racing industry will be a great asset to Ruidoso Downs Racetrack and to our industry in New Mexico as a whole,” Mr. Bingham said.
Mr. Bingham also talked about the drop in positive drug tests in racehorses in the state.
“We’re pleased to see the drop in positives, but one thing (the board) would approve is out-of-competition hair testing in Thoroughbreds,” he said. “We’re pleased to see the drop, but we still have a ways to go.”
Lastly, Mr. Bingham discussed the difficulty horsemen in the state have in finding qualified personnel to work in their barns.
“Surveys have shown that fewer and fewer Americans want to work outside, and that’s also true in the construction industry,” he said. “We need to find a way to make it easier for horsemen to find qualified individuals who can pass the licensing process. It’s an issue that we need to address.”
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Commission executive director Ismael “Izzy” Trejo complimented Ruidoso Downs’ management team on the way it handled the large crowds the track drew on Labor Day weekend.
“More than 20,000 people attended the races on the last two days of the track’s season, the day before Labor Day and Labor Day itself,” Mr. Trejo said. “We like to see those types of attendance numbers at our tracks in New Mexico, and it was all handled very well.
“I also attended the races at Albuquerque during the State Fair portion of the meet, and it’s nice to visit a track where the stands are packed,” he added.
Mr. Trejo also commended the seven agents who served on the All American enforcement team at Ruidoso Downs.
“They put in long days, and they were everywhere, including the barn area and jockeys’ room,” he said. “The professionalism they showed was of the highest standards.”
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Stan Sigman, part of the four-person group that it planning to purchase Ruidoso Downs Racetrack from current owner R.D. Hubbard, addressed the commission.
“(Current general manager) Shaun Hubbard first approached me about the Ruidoso Jockey Club buying the track, as I have been active on the board of the Jockey Club,” said Mr. Sigman, a Texas native who for several years served as president and chief executive officer of AT&T Wireless. “The Jockey Club is basically a social group with a membership of about 400 people, and having that many owners wouldn’t work.
“The four of us in the proposed ownership group are all successful business men,” he added, referring to himself, Narciso Flores, Johnny Trotter, and John Andreini.”We all race and breed horses, and we primarily became interested in buying Ruidoso Downs because of its history. I visited the track for the first time in 1957 for my 10th birthday. Back then, a lot of Texans would go to Ruidoso to get out of the heat, and that’s still the case today.
“We want to preserve that history, but we also want to enhance and improve the product where we can,” Mr. Sigman said. “We’re not interested in buying the tracks because we think we can increase its profits. There are some areas where we can make improvements to the facility itself. We would like to operate it for one year, and then make informed decisions.”
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Also at the meeting:
*The commission approved changes to Sunland Park Racetrack’s wagering format for its meet which opens December 15. The track will increase its minimum wager for its Pick-6 from 20 cents to $1 and will offer mandatory payouts once a month. In addition, the commission approved Sunland Park’s post time of 12:30 p.m. (Mountain) throughout its meet.
“We might start twilight racing as the days get longer toward the end of our meet,” said Sunland Park director of racing operations Dustin Dix. “If we decide to do that, we’ll ask the commission for approval at that time.”
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The next New Mexico Racing Commission monthly meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 12, at the commission headquarters in Albuquerque, beginning at 8:30 a.m. For more information, visit the commission's website at http://nmrc.state.nm.us, or call (505) 222-0700.

In The News

Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Sunland Park Racetrack will open its 2017-18 season with a nine-race program on Friday. Post time for the first race is set for 12:30 p.m. (MST).
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.




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