Racing commission to hear from horse racing industry

Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer

The New Mexico Racing Commission will hear from the horse racing industry during a meeting Thursday as part of a two-step process over issuing of a sixth racing license.

The commission wants to hear from the horse racing industry this month and from the public next month, said Vince Mares, commission director.

Mares said the commission would not be making a decision about the sixth license during Thursday’s meeting. He said there are stakeholders in the horse racing industry and in the public that are for and against the issuing of a sixth license.

Mares said the commission feels it is only right to gather all the information to determine if a sixth license is warranted and in the best interest of the state .

“It’s only fair to get both pros and cons before making any decision,” he said.

Scheduled to present information are the New Mexico Horse Breeders Association, New Mexico Horseman Association, The Jockey’s Guild, The Downs at Albuquerque, Ruidoso Downs, Sunland Park, SunRay Park, and Zia Park.

The commission’s reconsideration of a sixth license has prompted the Quay County Gaming Authority, directed by Warren Frost, to adjust its strategy from promoting a Tucumcari site to promoting the overall benefits to the state and any community that would be awarded to the sixth license.

Frost said after the meeting he plans to present data and documentation collected and compiled by the Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University, to show the benefits to Tucumcari, Quay County and the state for issuing a sixth license, and placing the sixth facility in Tucumcari.

The authority has had Don Chalmers’ bid to bring a racino to Tucumcari under consideration since Chalmers’ original bid in 2009.

Chalmers is the principal backer to Coronado Partners LLC, an investment group that first applied for the sixth license that was eventually awarded to Raton. Canadian developer’s Michael Moldenhauer planned to build La Mesa a racetrack and casino in Raton.

The commission, however, said Moldenhauer failed to open the casino by a May 2010 deadline or show he had adequate financing to complete the racetrack. The New Mexico Gaming Control Board then voted to invalidate Moldenhauer’s gambling license. The racing commission then nullfied his racing license.

Moldenhauer lost two appeals filed in a New Mexico’s State Court of Appeals.

Two unnamed private entities has shown an interest in bringing the sixth racino license to Curry County, according to real estate agent Paul Stout and City Manager Joe Thomas. Interests in Hobbs, Lordsburg and Raton have also indicated they plan to apply for the license.

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