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                                MEETING TIME
The New Mexico Racing Commission held its monthly meeting in the board room at the commission offices in Albuquerque on Thursday, May 16.
New Mexico Horse Breeders’ Association Mary Barber gave the commission the NMHBA’s race-a-day report for the 75-day Sunland Park meet, which ended May 5. During the Sunland meet, the track carded 298 New Mexico-bred races, 225 for Thoroughbreds and 73 for Quarter Horses. By comparison, 321 state-bred races were contested during the 2017- 18 Sunland Park meet, which consisted of 71 days, of which 258 were for Thoroughbreds and 63 were for Quarter Horses.
An average of 3.97 New Mexico-bred races per day were run during the 75-day Sunland Park meet, a decrease of 12 percent from the 4.52 state-bred races per day during the track’s 2017-18 season.
Also, during the first 68 days of the 2018- 19 Sunland Park meet, a total of 612 New Mexico-breds competed in open overnight races, of which 174 (121 Thoroughbreds and 53 Quarter Horses) finished first, second or third. Bonuses totaling $124,603.30 were paid to the owners of these horses.
“Sunland Park ran 256 New Mexico-bred overnight races, and there were 2,337 New Mexico-bred starters who were entered to par- ticipate in these races,” Ms. Barber said. “This is an average of 9.13 New Mexico-breds per race.”
During his presentation to the commis- sion, Jockeys’ Guild regional manager John Beech ( reported that things were going well at both SunRay Park and Ruidoso Downs.
“The jocks’ room at SunRay Park is in good shape, and the track surface is in good shape despite a lot of recent rainfall,” Mr. Beech said. “Same thing at Ruidoso -- the jocks’ room is perfect, and the track is also in good shape.”
During his presentation to the commis- sion, New Mexico Horsemen’s Association ( Pat Bingham spoke of a need to attract new owners and fans to the sport.
“The entire racing industry in our state should be working to maximize the racing side of our facilities,” Mr. Bingham said. “We need to do more to attract new horses and trainers who are honest and follow our rules. It’s important that we do our very best to attract new owners and fans.
“We’re looking at joint marketing efforts between ourselves and our racetracks,” he added. Mr. Bingham also reported that, during
the first 62 days of the Sunland Park meet, 577 races were conducted involving 4,943 starters. The average field size per race
was 9.33 for Quarter Horses and 8.71 for Thoroughbreds. Regarding purse distribu- tion, 75 percent of Sunland Park’s purses were distributed to Thoroughbreds and 25 percent to Quarter Horses.
New NMRC chairperson Beverly Bourguet of Albuquerque reported on the commission’s 2019- 20 race dates committee, which met on May 15. Because all of the current commissioners are new to their posts, all attended except for commission vice chair David “Hossie” Sanchez of Belen.
“No actions were taken,” Ms. Bourguet reported. “Ruidoso Downs asked to com- plete the month of May during their current season to see if results will affect their request for 2020 dates.
“We want to get this (race dates issue) right,” she added. “We’re a new commission, and we want to work with everyone. We’ll let everyone know if we call for a special meeting, but we will address this issue at our regular June meeting.”
In his report to the commission, NMRC Ismael “Izzy” Trejo said that he was at Sunland Park Racetrack during its closing weekend (May 4-5) and addressed some issues that the track’s jockeys had.
“I also was at the track for Sunland Derby Day (March 24), and they drew a large on-track crowd for the event,” he added. “It was very nice to see a lot of people enjoying a day at the races.”
Mr. Trejo also visited SunRay Park, which opened its 17-day season on May 3, and Ruidoso Downs, which opened its 54-day meet on May 10.
“SunRay Park had some rain early in the meet, and my compliments to the track super- intendent for keeping the racing surface in good shape,” he said. “Also, there was a good, carnival-like atmosphere at the track.
“Ruidoso opened two weeks earlier than normal, and their opening-day card featured trials for their new maiden stakes,” Mr. Trejo added. “They handled more than $400,000 on opening day, which is encouraging.”
Mr. Trejo also addressed the issues the American Quarter Horse Association was hav- ing in delivering foal papers to racetracks in a timely manner.
Ruidoso Downs president and general manager Jeff True said that protocols are in place to ensure that the track’s paddock judges properly identify horses.
“We’ll get the information electronically from AQHA,” he said. “I’m confident that the problem will work itself out throughout the summer.”
• The commission received two bids from veterinarians to serve as its official state vet at Albuquerque Downs, and Dr. Frank Anderson was approved to serve in the position.
• The commission retroactively approved Sunland Park’s request to replace clerk of scales Sean Winsor with John Ortiz during the last two weeks of its meet. Winsor left to fulfill his duties as racing secretary at SunRay Park, which opened on May 3.
• The commission retroactively approved SunRay Park’s request to run 10 races on May 11. “We had an event to benefit ‘Aztec Strong’ that day,” track director of racing Lonnie Barber reported. “We had so many sponsors that we decided to add a race. “Also, our handle and average field size are up this season, and we attribute it to our shorter 17-day meet,” he added.
The next New Mexico Racing Commission monthly meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 20, at the commission office in Albuquerque. For more information, visit the commission’s website at, or call (505) 222-0700.
 “The entire racing industry in our state should be working to maximize the racing side of our facilities.” - Pat Bingham
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