Zia Park Oaks Added to New Mexico Schedule

The $300,000 race part of track's stakes purse upgrade for 56-day autumn meet.

The inaugural running of the Zia Park Oaks, worth $300,000, is scheduled as part of a big stakes afternoon Nov. 23, the New Mexico track announced.

The 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies would become the most lucrative Thoroughbred race for female horses ever contested in the state.

In a release issued by Zia Park April 25, Fred Hutton, the Hobbs, N.M. track's director of racing, said the hope is that the race will eventually become its first graded event.

"Looking at the stakes calendar around the country, we felt the 3-year-old filly division would benefit from a new, large money spot at this time of the year," said Hutton, who assumed his current role March 24. "It presents one final opportunity for these fillies to race within their age group and do so with enough space prior to races like the Houston Ladies Classic and La Canada series in California."

The Zia Park Oaks is part of the richest stakes program in the nine-year history of Zia Park, which was approved by the New Mexico Racing Commission April 25.  A combined $3,950,000 in Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse stakes will be offered during the 56-day meet, which opens Sept. 7.

The Zia Park Derby, also set for Nov. 23, had its purse increased to $200,000 from $50,000 in 2012. The Oaks and Derby join  the $150,000 Zia Park Championship for older horses and the $140,000 Eddy County for New Mexico-bred 2-year-olds on the lucrative Thoroughbred program that day.

The richest day on the Zia calendar remains the Oct. 27 New Mexico Cup, which will offer eight Thoroughbred and four Quarter Horse stakes for state-breds totaling nearly $1.8 million in purses.