Archives for October 10, 2017

Is Horse Racing Dead? New Mexico Track Reports Gains

Press Release: Albuquerque Downs

Albuquerque Downs ended its 57-day Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse race meet on September 24, recording increases in total wagering handle and average daily purse distribution.

A total of $13,078,819 was wagered on Albuquerque Downs’ 543 live races, an increase of 3 percent over the $12,706,327 wagered on the track’s 582 live races during its 60-day season in 2016. Of the total wagered this year, $3,284,178 was bet on track and $9,794,641 was wagered at off-track sites.

horse racing blinkersAlbuquerque Downs’ average daily handle on its live races reached $229,453 per day, an increase of 8 percent over last year’s average daily handle of $211,772. The track’s average-per-race handle — $24,086 — was 10 percent higher than the 2016 average-per-race handle of $21,832.

Much of Albuquerque Downs’ handle increase can be attributed to the fact that, for the first time in its history, the track’s all-Thoroughbred Wednesday programs were featured on TVG starting on July 26.

Horsemen benefited from Albuquerque Downs’ brisk business, as the track paid $9,317,484 in purses for 57 days, down less than 1 percent from the $9,406,287 paid for 60 days in 2016. However, average daily purses in 2017 reached $163,465, up 4 percent over the 2016 average of $156,771, and the 2017 average-per-race purse of $17,159 was 6 percent higher than last year’s average-per-race purse of $16,162.

Albuquerque Downs’ 2017 season was scheduled for 58 days, but one date — Friday, August 11 — was canceled due to weather conditions.

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Alfredo Juarez Jr. was Albuquerque Downs’ leading Thoroughbred jockey with 51 wins from 160 mounts, nine more than runner-up Elvin Gonzalez, who rode 42 winners from 188 mounts. Juarez also led all Albuquerque jockeys with mount earnings of $708,540.

Albuquerque Downs’ leading Thoroughbred trainer, Justin Evans, prepped the winners of 39 races from 127 starters, 20 more than runner-up Henry Dominguez, who won 19 races from 105 starters. Evans also finished first in starter purse earnings at $561,075.

Jose Luna Silva topped all Albuquerque Downs Thoroughbred owners with 11 winners from 32 starters, five more than runner-up Solitaire Stable, which won six races from 30 starters. The father-and-son team of Sam E. Stevens and Sammy L. Stevens of Lamesa, Texas, topped the track’s owner standings with purse earnings of $115,795.

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On the Quarter Horse side, Isaias Cardenas was Albuquerque Downs’ leading jockey with 30 wins from 172, two more than J. Martin Bourdieu, who won 26 races from 132 Quarter Horse mounts. Agustin Silva topped all Quarter Horse riders in purse earnings with $458,538 from just 41 mounts.

Jesus Carrete topped all Albuquerque Downs Quarter Horse trainers with 30 wins from 76 starters, 16 more than runner-up Ernest Fennell, who prepped the winners of 14 races from 32 starters. The winner of the $252,515 La Fiesta Futurity on closing day with Strykr Force, Carrete also topped the track’s trainers in purse earnings at $502,939.

Jesus M. Estrada was Albuquerque Downs’ leading Quarter Horse owner with 10 wins from 19 starters, two more than Carrete, who won eight races from 17 of his own starters. Carrete, who is also the owner of Strykr Force, topped all Albuquerque Quarter Horse owners in purse earnings at $212,238.

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The many outstanding equine performances at Albuquerque Downs, which paid a track-record $1.5 million in purses during its closing weekend (September 23-24), were topped by reigning American Quarter Horse Association world champion Jessies First Down. A homebred 6-year-old gelding trained by Jimmy Padgett for owner Ted G. Abrams of Houston, Jessies First Down won the September 24, $250,000 Albuquerque Fall Quarter Horse Championship, which for the first time in its three-year history offered its winner a berth in the $750,000 Champion of Champions (G1) at Los Alamitos.

Albuquerque’s richest and most prestigious stakes for Thoroughbreds, the 1 1/8-mile, $200,000 Downs at Albuquerque Handicap on August 5, was won by Richard Keith’s American Dubai. Rodney Richards trained the 4-year-old Virginia-bred colt.

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Live horse racing will resume at Albuquerque Downs on June 29, 2018. The scheduled 55-day season will run through September 23.