Page 64 - NM Summer 2023
P. 64

                  MEETING TIME
By Michael Cusortelli
The New Mexico Racing Commission held
its monthly meeting in the board room at the commission offices in Albuquerque on Thursday, April 20.
New Mexico Horse Breeders’ Association executive director Mary Barber gave the commission the NMHBA’s race-a-day report for the 55-day Sunland Park meet, which ended April 2. During the Sunland Park meet, the track carded 224 New Mexico-bred races, 126 for Thoroughbreds and 98 for Quarter Horses. By comparison, 242 state-bred races were contested during the track’s 2022 season, which also ran 55 days. Of those 242 state-bred races, 150 were for Thoroughbreds and 92 were for Quarter Horses.
An average of 4.08 New Mexico-bred races per day were run during the 2023 Sunland Park meet, a decrease of 7 percent from the 4.40 state-bred races per contested during the track’s 2022 season.
Ms. Barber also reported that, during the first 51 days of the 2023 Sunland Park meet, a total
of 552 New Mexico-breds competed in open overnight races, of which 165 (73 Thoroughbreds and 92 Quarter Horses) finished first, second, or third. Bonuses totaling $170,833.80 were paid to the owners of these horses.
In addition, 910 horses raced in the 110 overnight New Mexico-bred Thoroughbred races for an average field size of 8.28 horses per race, and 694 horses raced in the 77 overnight state-bred Quarter Horse races for an average
field size of 9.02 horses per race.
During his report to the commission,
NMRC executive director Ismael “Izzy”Trejo commented on closing weekend, April 1-2, of the Sunland Park meet.
“The weather was beautiful,” Mr. Trejo said. “The handle on Sunland Derby Day (March 26) wasn’t as good as pre-pandemic numbers, due to a number of reasons. However, the track deserves kudos for its great customer service.”
Mr. Trejo also reported that Dr. Mary Scollay, chief of science for HISA/HIWU (Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act/ Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit), will
be at Ruidoso Downs Racetrack on May 18
to answer any questions from stakeholders, including about the agency’s anti-doping program. He also said that the date for the pre- meet inspection of Ruidoso Downs, which opens its meet on May 26, has yet to be determined.
“We look forward to seeing all the new construction going on at Ruidoso Downs,” Mr. Trejo said.
In addition, Mr. Trejo introduced the new deputy attorney general, Joe Dworak. Mr. Dworak said that the state attorney general’s office is in the process of hiring new attorneys, one of whom will eventually be assigned to the NMRC.
“There used to be multiple attorneys assigned to boards such as the racing commission, so that will be the case again with this new attorney,” he added.
• Commissioner Billy Smith asked Mr. Trejo if there is going to a problem with HISA from the time they test to the time the commission release purses. Mr. Trejo said that the most recent stay has disrupted the normal flow of purse releases.
“Once the stay is lifted in 30 days, the flow will return back to normal,” he added. “We really want to get those purses released, but we can’t until we are told we can release the funds. Ironically, it’s the litigation brought on by the horsemen’s lawsuit on a national level that has caused this delay.”
• Sunland Park director of racing operations Dustin Dix reported that all four of the open stakes on Sunland Derby Day were won by horses with local connections.
“This is great for the state of New Mexico,” he added.
Mr. Dix also reported that Sunland Park’s on-track handle for its 55-day meet decreased 1.04 percent, and off-track handle dropped 13 percent.
• Chris McErlean, vice president of racing for Penn National Gaming Inc., introduced Lauren Barrows, the new vice president and general manager of Zia Park in Hobbs. Ms. Barrows has been employed in the gaming industry for about 25 years, including a stint at Indiana Grand (now Horseshoe Indianapolis).
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