Good to see Tucumcari back in racetrack race

New Mexico's racing commission is scheduled to meet April 25 and, once again, begin seeking applications for a racetrack and casino.

We're glad to see Tucumcari will re-enter the race it first entered more than five years ago.

A group of investors representing La Mesa Racetrack and Casino in Raton won the commission's favor when the license was first awarded in 2008. However, that bunch missed deadlines for opening and after a long court battle, the New Mexico Court of Appeals last month cleared the way for new contenders.

Warren Frost, director of the Quay County Gaming Authority, said Tucumcari will apply again for the last license expected to be issued in the state for the next quarter century.

The investment group is headed by Albuquerque businessman Don Chalmers and never lost hope that Tucumcari could someday host races. All the original Quay group's players are still on board, Frost said, and hopes are higher than ever for the community that needs an economic boost in hopes of returning to its glory days of old Route 66.

Frost said he is aware of only two other candidates for the commission's prize — a different investor group in Raton and operators who want to expand in Hobbs.

Tucumcari's greatest selling point has always been its location — along busy Interstate 40 and just two hours from Amarillo, Texas. That's a city of 200,000 and home to gamblers and racing fans who are used to passing through Tucumcari and driving two more hours to reach Albuquerque or Santa Fe. Who knows how many more entertainment dollars Texas Panhandlers would spend if the fun was just a daytrip away.

Frost said racing commissioners are expected to set a 60-day deadline for applications when they meet later this month. He expects financial backing to be of great interest this time "as it should have been last time."

The Chalmers' group expects close scrutiny, he said. "We are aware, and we welcome it."

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