ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With the state loosening up restrictions, Live horse racing is set to start back up again with a race planned as soon as next month.
It’s been a tough year for many in New Mexico due to the pandemic including the gaming and horse racing industry. But the state’s racing commission said loosening restrictions is the first step to get back on track.
“We can look at 2021 as just being a rebuilding year,” said Ismael Trejo, the Executive Director with New Mexico Racing Commission. “It may not be pretty for the industry but we’re going to make a go of it. We’re getting some traction now with the restrictions being lifted and gaming allowed to go on at our race tracks and casinos.”
Trejo said they were able to host a couple of races last year. But said it wasn’t the same, due to the limited amount of fans allowed and the lack of purse money which sways horsemen to compete in races in the state.
He said by law, 20% of the gaming revenue goes towards purses for the horsemen. However, without gaming activity for the majority of 2020 those purse accounts were depleted.
Meanwhile, the Albuquerque Downs just opened back up this past weekend, which was a huge boost for getting people back to work.
“For a lot of casino employees and a lot of racing employees somewhat ended the nightmare that they’ve been going through the last 12 months,” said Don Cook, the President of Racing for Downs Albuquerque. “And some sort of light at the end of the tunnel and it’s very exciting.”
Cook said last year they laid off close to 400 employees but said with the state loosening the restrictions for gaming and horse racing, they were able to rehire most of those employees back.
Cook said the Albuquerque Downs does not have an official date set when they’ll host their race this season. The first horse racing meet of the season will be held on April 23 at Sunray Park in Farmington.