By Laura Nesbitt
About 500 people from the Estancia Valley showed up in support of a proposed move by the Albuquerque Downs to Moriarty at a New Mexico Racing Commission hearing on Tuesday night at the Moriarty Civic Center.
Moriarty annexed 700 acres north of Interstate 40 and east of N.M. 41 at the request of the King family about 10 years ago, said City Clerk Linda Fischer.
Downs President Paul Blanchard is planning to buy 500 acres of that annexation for the racino, according to Moriarty Mayor Adan Encinias.
Blanchard has been considering relocating the Downs since at least the beginning of 2006, according to State Fair Commission Chairman Sandy Jones in an interview from April 2006.
The completion of an impact study of Hobbs’ Zia Park Racetrack/Black Gold Casino, along with getting the tribal gaming rules and regulations in place, meant that the State Racing Commission was able to move forward on evaluating applications for a sixth racino and the relocation application from the Downs, said Executive Director Julian Luna.
The study found that Zia Park had no negative impact on Ruidoso Downs, Sunland Park, the Albuquerque Downs or SunRay Park near Farmington.
The public signed 397 letters of support while signing in to Tuesday’s meeting, with 10 people saying they were against the move, according to Debbie Ortiz, Moriarty chamber of commerce executive director.
A 45-minute slide presentation by Blanchard and Don Cook, general manager, began the meeting.
A stables, racetrack, administrative buildings and parking lot are among the facilities that fill 230 acres. The rest of the site includes breeding and training facilities.
Comments against the move came from Laguna Pueblo 1st Lt. Gov. Richard Luarkie who said the application was incomplete, there was a lack of adequate notice and there would be a loss of revenue to Laguna.
Joe Tenorio, a representative from Acoma Pueblo, also spoke against the move saying he had spoken with Chandler Sanchez, governor of Acoma yesterday.
Tenorio listed several reasons for the denial including a lack of a feasibility study, market study and economic impact study.
Whether or not the Albuquerque Downs will move to Moriarty could be announced as soon as next week or not until late May, Luna said earlier this week in a phone interview.