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                                  “Because there is more daylight, we are starting later and that has helped our handle numbers get better,” said Sunland Park Director of Racing Dustin Dix.
regional manager John Beech congratulated Sunland Park on a successful Sunland Derby Day, during which state wagering handle records were broken.
“We’re also looking forward to the opening of the SunRay Park season (on May 3),” he added. “I’ve heard no complaints from anyone about any issue.”
During his presentation to the commis- sion, New Mexico Horsemen’s Association ( executive director Pat Bingham introduced NHMA president Jay Rader. He also said that the
ratio of Thoroughbred to Quarter Horse races at Sunland Park has been about 72 percent Thoroughbred and 28 percent Quarter Horses, and that he has gotten several calls from members who’d like to see 870-yard races for Quarter Horses run at the track.
Mr. Bingham also addressed the allegations that have surfaced, primarily on social media, about alleged improprieties in the industry.
“I’m not going to speculate as to whether they are true or false, but I think the racing commis- sion should at least investigate them,” he added.
In addition, Mr. Bingham complimented Sunland Park on its recent track safety meeting.
“It was the best exchange of ideas between track management, horsemen, and veterinar- ians on how we can improve things,” he said.
In his report to the commission, NMRC executive director Ismael “Izzy” Trejo said that he made two trips out of the state.
“I attended the ARCI (Association of Racing Commissioners International) meeting in California, and it was very informative,” he said. “It painted a picture of where the racing industry should head in the future. There was talk about the 23 horses who died during the first few months of the Santa Anita meet, and there was a lot of doom and gloom. The con- cern was, is this going to mean the end of horse racing, or is this going to be an opportunity to reform the industry?”
Mr. Trejo also said that he was at the track for Sunland Derby Day.
“The grandstand was full, and a single-day statehandlerecordwasbroken,”headded.“Allin all,itwasagreatdayforNewMexicoracing.”
• Commissioner Gayla McCulloch of Farmington reported on the recent race dates committee meeting. “It was a typi- cal first race dates committee meeting,”
she said. “We have a good discussion, but Sunland Park and SunRay Park want to see how their 2019 meets go before they make any recommendations for next year.”
• The commission approved the follow- ing board of stewards for the 17-day SunRay Park meet, which opens May 3: Ron Walker, Victor Escobar Jr., and Jack Houghton Jr.
• The commission approved the following board of stewards for the 54-day Ruidoso Downs meet, which opens May 10: Violet Smith, Jill Cathey, and Ruben Rivera.
• The commission approved Dr. Rodney Taylor to serve as state veterinarian for the SunRay Park meet, with Dr. Frank Anderson available to serve in a relief role if needed.
• The commission approved SunRay Park’s 2019 wagering format, post times, jockey and exercise rider insurance, and racing officials. “We have commitments from 813 horses to participate in our meet,” said SunRay Park director of racing Lonnie Barber. “We’ve received a lot of positive feedback on our purse structure, especially from owners, and we’ve heard from a lot of people who want to race
Jeff True reported that the track’s pre-meet walk-through inspection will take place on April 30. “We’d originally planned to have (track maintenance consultant) Dennis Moore look at our track racing surface before the walk-through inspection, but he won’t be able to make it out to Ruidoso until May 7,” Mr. True said. “Also, we didn’t get as many stall applications as we expected, but the good news is that the applications we did receive had more horses listed on them, and we do have some new horsemen coming in. We’re pleased with the stall applications we’ve received.
“Our futurity nominations are down by about 1.5 percent, but our derbies are all up between 10 and 12 percent, and that’s a rebound from last year,” he added. “One area where we are short is 2-year-old Thoroughbred fillies.”
• Sunland Park director of racing operations Dustin Dix reported that his track broke a state single-day handle record on Sunland Derby Day, March 26.
“I’ve been involved in every Sunland Derby, and it’s been a very satisfying experience,” he said. “It’s a great example of what casino gaming at tracks can do to improve live racing. Cutting Humor, the winner of our Sunland Derby, will qualify to the Kentucky Derby and is being pointed to the Derby, and the runner-up, Anothertwistafate, will need some defec- tions in order to get in.
Sunland Park’s 2018-19 meet runs through May 5.
“We’re excited to be racing live on Kentucky Derby Day,” Mr. Dix added. “Our turf club is already sold out, and we’ll have a Woodford Reserve Bourbon Tasting event in our Mine That Bird Room. We’ll also have some good live racing with the Copper Top Futurity for Thoroughbreds and a couple of Quarter Horse futurities.”
Mr. Dix also said that Sunland Park’s handle is down 5 percent on-track and about 15 percent off-track. In addition, the track’s average field size of 8.57 horses per racethrough64days isdownslightlyfrom 8.72duringthesameperiodlastseason.
at our track who we haven’t heard from before. We have special events planned for every weekend, and we’re looking forward to a good meet.”
The commission approved the wagering format, post times, and racing officials for the 2019 Albuquerque Downs meet, which opens June 28. “Our wagering format will basically be the same as
2018, except that we’ve added a late daily double on our last two races of the day,” said Albuquerque Downs president of rac- ing operations Don Cook.
Mr. Cook also discussed the track’s stable-area improvements.
“We’ve paved the area from our race office to the feed store, and our restrooms willberefurbished,”hesaid.
• RuidosoDownspresidentandgeneralmanager
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