Home Sports Zia Park horse racing starts Oct. 5 as it adjusts to COVID-19 rules

Zia Park horse racing starts Oct. 5 as it adjusts to COVID-19 rules

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With the COVID-19 restrictions to hotels, casinos, and horse racing in New Mexico, the only races for fans to enjoy have been at Ruidoso Downs. The 50 day racing schedule at Ruidoso Down is coming to an end with the final day of racing set for Monday.

But fans will not be saying goodbye to the season just yet. At a special meeting held by the New Mexico Racing Commission on Tuesday, the executive commissioners agreed to the amended racing schedule at Zia Park Racetrack & Casino.

“The New Mexico Racing Commission has agreed to amend Zia Park’s fall racing schedule for 2020,” said Jennifer Woffindale, director of marketing, via email. “Live thoroughbred and quarter horse racing will begin on October 5th and will continue through December 23rd, for a total of 36 racing dates.”

She added the hotel and casino is still closed even with the racetrack opening.

During the special session, Zia Park’s amended plan for the season will begin on Sept. 10, with the casino and racetrack beginning by setting up the barns. On Sept. 13 horses can move into the barns.

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This plan is contingent and tentative depending on the New Mexico Horsemen Association (NMHA) exporting the simulcast signal, and the New Mexico governor’s office lifting restrictions on hotels and casinos by Nov. 1.

“If the casino and hotel is open on or before November 1st we will add four racing days to our calendar,” Woffindale said. “One day per week for the last four weeks of the racing season. That would be a total of 40 racing days compared to the 36 days if we are not open on or before November 1st.”

She added they would not be adding extra races just racing days to the calendar.

The amended schedule has Zia Park holding nine races a day with the possibility of 10 if it’s in the best interest of Zia Park and the NMHA.

After the special meeting NMHA executive director Richard Erhard released a letter on the NMHA website on the special meeting and Zia Park amended racing schedule with the intent to speak about the simulcast signal before the 48 hour deadline given by the New Mexico Racing Commission. The NMHA will be holding a special meeting this morning at 10:30 a.m.

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