New Mexico Horse Racing
The state of New Mexico allows pari mutuel wagering on live and simulcast horse races. Its regulations are overseen by the New Mexico Horse Racing Commission. The minimum age to place a bet is 21.
Six stakes races with purses totaling more than $1.1 million will be contested on Sunday afternoon at Zia Park and Casino. Among the highlights is the $228,550 New Mexico Classic Derby, which is restricted to horses that qualified in trials held here on Nov. 5.
When it comes to horse racing in New Mexico, Ruidoso Downs is the place to be. The track is the home of the All American Futurity, which is the world’s richest quarter horse race. It is also the host of the 440-yard All American Derby, which has a purse of more than $1.3 million.
The summer racing season at Ruidoso Downs begins Memorial Day weekend and runs through Labor Day. Simulcast racing is offered year round. In addition to live racing, Ruidoso Downs is a popular destination for concerts and unique events. The Downs also offers several dining options, including 440 Smokehouse and Anejo Cantina. Those looking for an exclusive race-day experience can purchase a Jockey Club membership, which includes exceptional viewing spots and top-notch food and beverages.
Downs at Albuquerque
The Downs at Albuquerque is New Mexico’s oldest horse racetrack and casino. It has 310 slot machines and is open year-round. The track also offers simulcast horse racing and wagering. The Downs is a great choice for adults looking for a night out.
The Downs at Albuquerque will begin its 35-day live thoroughbred and quarter horse season on Thursday. This year’s meet features several stakes races, including the Marathon Claiming Stakes series. The season will conclude on October 29 with the Con Jackson Claiming Stakes. In the meantime, fans can enjoy a variety of other horse races at the track’s simulcasting centers. The track also hosts the prestigious New Mexico Fall Quarter Horse Championship this week. The event is part of the All-American series and will feature a purse of more than $1 million.
Sunland Park Raceway
Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino was established in 1959 as a Thoroughbred racing track. In the 1960’s and 70’s, it was a key gateway to the East and West for top racing talent. Many of today’s leading thoroughbreds and jockeys got their start at the track.
In addition to simulcast wagering and casino slot machines, Sunland Park offers a variety of delicious dining options. Riley’s, Ventanas, the Jackpot Grill and the Tecate Cantina are all available on-site.
The highlight of the meet is the Sunland Derby, a Grade III race open to three-year-olds willing to contest a one and one-eighth mile race on dirt. The race is renowned as an important Kentucky Derby prep, and winners earn 20 qualifying points towards a berth in the Run for the Roses.
The New Mexico horse racing industry has a history of controversy. Many races are run under questionable circumstances and horses die often. Some people believe this is a result of doping and illegal medication use. Others argue that it is just a fact of life in the sport.
The state’s largest gaming company has taken steps to address this problem. However, the issue is complicated because New Mexico’s casinos and racetracks compete against each other.
The 19th season of horse racing at Zia Park was a record-setting one in several ways. The Hobbs, New Mexico track set records for average daily handle and purses during the 30-day mixed Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse meet. Graded stakes winner Red Route One added another victory to his impressive resume Nov. 27 when he won the $250,000 Zia Park Derby.
After a year of COVID-19 restrictions, live horse racing is set to return to SunRay Park in Farmington. The racetrack and casino are expected to see a boost in attendance and handle this season.
The upcoming racing season at SunRay will include stakes races for quarter horses and thoroughbreds. One of the more anticipated stakes races is the New Mexico Breeders Futurity, which will be run on May 20 for 2-year-old quarter horses at 350 yards. The race is the top choice for trainers Nancy Summers and Chris Evans, who have both won multiple races in the state.
Trainers Dick Cappellucci and Todd Fincher are also looking forward to the resumption of live racing in New Mexico. They hope to draw business from horsemen who would otherwise send their horses to Arapahoe Park in neighboring Colorado.