Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in New Mexico

Returning meet at Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino wraps up on positive note

The 55-day 2021-22 Sunland Park meet is in the books and after Sunday’s last race, it can be considered a success.

In March of 2020, the Sunland Derby and the final few weeks of the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 virus. The 2020-21 season never happened as the casino stayed closed until early March of 2021. With the closing of the casino, that in turn affected racing since casino money is used to help the money allotted for horse racing purses.

But the racetrack opened in December and the Sunland meet found success. The Sunland Derby returned on March 27 with Slow Down Andy winning and earning 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby. Nearly $3.5 million was wagered during the 12 races on Sunland Derby day and there were nearly 17,000 people in attendance.

Sunland Park Purse increase

The final month of the meet [horse racing in New Mexico] also saw a 25 percent purse increase and the amount of races per race day, which were Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, increased from 9 to 10, 11 and eventually 12 races per day.

“We were happy with the meet,” said Dustin Dix, who is the Director of Racing at Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino. “We had quality racing in terms of both thoroughbreds and quarter horses. Having the return of the Sunland Derby was big for us, it is certainly a highlight of the meet.”

The latest on the Kentucky Derby Preps from Agameofskill.com – Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes.

Horse racing meet at Ruidoso Downs Race Track begins Today

The 2021 horse racing season at Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino begins Friday at the Southeastern New Mexico track.

Here is what to expect on opening weekend and throughout the summer race season, which ends Labor Day.

Opening weekend in New Mexico

Friday is the first day of trials for the Ruidoso Futurity for two-year-old quarter horses and there will be 16 races contested. Saturday will be the second day of trials for the Ruidoso Futurity and 16 more trials will take place. The top five qualifiers each day will qualify for the finals.

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Covid-19 and Horse Racing. New Mexico to resume racing in April

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The commission that oversees horse racing in New Mexico announced Monday that live racing is set to resume in April now that public health restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic are being eased in some places around the state.

The five licensed tracks and their associated casinos have been hit hard over the past year. After a brief hiatus last spring, races resumed at Ruidoso Downs in May and The Downs at Albuquerque and Zia Park conducted live meets last summer but did so while their casinos remained closed.

Without revenue from slot machines and tables, purse money was reduced in 2020 to a fraction of what it was the previous year.

Under the revised public health order issued last week by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, large entertainment venues such as racetracks will be permitted to operate depending on whether the counties in which they are located meet the state’s benchmarks for COVID-19 positivity rates and new per-capita cases.

Opening day at SunRay Park in northwestern New Mexico is scheduled for April 23. Commissioners plan to vote on the track’s purse schedule, post times and other details that will clear the way for racing during their March 18 meeting.

Racing officials expect the purse accounts to recover with influxes of revenue not seen in nearly a year…

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.