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All American winner invited to rich Zia Park Stakes


September 7, 2006     E-mail this page to a friend!

Ruidoso Downs, NM (Sept. 3, 2006) ? After just one season of racing, Zia Park in Hobbs, New Mexico, has grabbed the attention of many owners, trainers, jockeys and fans with its lucrative racing program.

Fueled by more than 730 slot machines in its Black Gold Casino, the track will offer purses for Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds that will average close to $300,000 a day during the 49-day season from September 22 to December 11, said track co-owner R.D. Hubbard. Hubbard also is majority owner of Ruidoso Downs.

Zia will race on Saturdays through Tuesdays this season. On November 12, the track will hold New Mexico Cup Day with 11 races for state-bred American Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds that will be worth a total of $1.5 million. Among the stakes is the $200,000 New Mexico Cup Quarter Horse Championship, a 440-yard race for 3-year-olds and up. Over Thanksgiving weekend, Zia also will race on Friday, November 24.

A new feature of the Zia meet is the $300,000-added Southwest Juvenile Championship on December 3. Invitations to the 440-yard race will be given to the horses that win 10 Grade 1 futurities in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico: the Dash For Cash Futurity at Lone Star Park; Manor Downs Futurity at Manor Downs; Remington Park and Heritage Place Futurities at Remington Park; Retama Park Futurity at Retama Park; Ruidoso, Rainbow and All American Futurities at Ruidoso Downs; the Sam Houston Futurity at Sam Houston Race Park; and the West Texas Futurity at Sunland Park.

“I think that’ll put an ending to the 2-year-old year,” Hubbard said about the race.

If the winner of one of the eligible futurities declines the invitation, the invitation will revert to the second-place finisher in the race. If the second-place finisher declines, the invitation will go to the third-place finisher.

Zia’s other notable stakes for American Quarter Horses include the $250,000 Hobbs America Futurity on October 15 and the $200,000 Zia Park Quarter Horse Championship on December 10.

During Zia’s inaugural 44-day season last year, total on- and off-track handle on the track’s American Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred races exceeded $10 million. Zia ran an average of five American Quarter Horse races a day and paid an average of $97,428 in daily purses, according to AQHA figures. Zia also helped contribute to a booming year overall for American Quarter Horse racing.

For 2005, AQHA reported that total purses for American Quarter Horses reached $98,630,441, marking a 5.5-percent increase from 2004. Of that amount from last year, $25,806,953 was paid to sprinters competing in New Mexico, a figure that ranked New Mexico above every other state, all of Canada and Mexico.