Sunday, May 05, 2013
The New Mexico Racing Commission has approved the stakes schedule for Zia Park in Hobbs, which opens its 56-day meet on September 7.
Nearly $4 million in stakes purse money will be up for grabs for both Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses at Zia Park. The most noteworthy addition to the stakes schedule is the 1 1/16-mile, $300,000 Zia Park Oaks for 3-year-old fillies, which will be run on November 23 and become the richest-ever Thoroughbred race for fillies or mares in New Mexico.
Zia Park director of racing Fred Hutton, who officially assumed his post on March 24, is hoping the addition of the Zia Park Oaks will bring the first-ever graded Thoroughbred stakes to the track.
“Looking at the stakes calendar around the country, we felt the three-year-old filly division would benefit from a new big-money spot at that time of the year,” said Hutton. “It presents one final opportunity for these fillies to race within their age group and do so with enough time before races like the Houston Ladies Classic and the La Canada series in California.”
The Zia Park Derby for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds will also be run on November 23. This year's Zia Park Derby will be worth $200,000, an increase of $50,000 from last year's purse. Also scheduled to be run that day will be the 1 1/8-mile, $150,000 Zia Park Championship for older horses, and the 1-mile, $140,000 Eddy County Stakes (R) for New Mexico-bred 2-year-olds.
Zia Park's November 24 program will be headlined by two graded Quarter Horse stakes – the 440-yard, $150,000 Zia Park Championship (G1) for 3-year-olds and older, and the 400-yard, $140,000 New Mexico Filly & Mare Championship (RG1). The winner of the Zia Park Championship will, for the first time in the stakes' history, earn a starting berth in the Grade 1, 440-yard Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos in December.
Another highlight of the Zia Park meet will be the New Mexico Cup program on Sunday, October 27. The richest state-bred program in North America, the New Mexico Cup will offer purse money of nearly $2 million in 12 state-bred stakes, eight for Thoroughbreds and four for Quarter Horses.
This year's New Mexico Cup card will include a new race, a 6-furlong, $120,000 stakes for fillies and mares.
Also, to capitalize on Zia Park's exported simulcast signal, four of the track's $55,000 Thoroughbred stakes have been moved to weekdays. These races are the Chaves County Stakes (Monday, September 30), Governor's Cup Stakes (Tuesday, October 15), Veterans Day Stakes (Monday, November 4), and Lea County Sprint Stakes (Wednesday, November 13).
Zia Park's fall meet will run through December 3. For more information, visit the track's website at www.ziaparkcasino.com, and click on the “Racing” link at the top of the homepage.