Raton, N.M., to Get Racetrack

Plans are underway for new racetrack in Raton, N.M.

The New Mexico Racing Commission approved the racing license application by Horse Racing at Raton, paving the way for construction of a proposed $50-million Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse track and casino to be constructed in the northern part of the state.

The proposed track, which is yet to be named, hopes to begin live Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing in the summer of 2010 at a planned 53,000-square-foot facility featuring a one-mile track with a seven-furlong chute and a 550-yard Quarter Horse track. There are plans for 1,500 stalls on the backside.

The casino, which is expected to open in 2009 and will operate 16-to-18 hours per day, will feature 600 slot machines. Plans call for television screens that show live races and tote machines to be available on the casino floor.

Early plans call for the track to conduct a mixed race meet between 52-to-60 days per year from June through Labor Day with purses of $8-10 million per year. Plans call for racing four days per week with nine races per day.

Eric Culver will serve as the track’s general manager and Paul Micucci will be vice-president of the facility.

Toronto-area developer Michael Moldenhauer of Moldenhauer Group, which is developing the racino with Marc Corerra of Santa Fe, said he plans to begin construction as soon as possible and is currently awaiting permits.

“I feel that Raton was deserving of the license because of a broad range of issues that at the end of the day were in the best interest of the horse racing industry,” said Moldenhauer, who specifically cited the climate in Raton as perfect for summer race dates. 

He also said the track will balance the distribution of race dates between the northern and southern portions of the state.

“It opens up a new target market for being able to attract patrons from outside of the state, given its close proximity to the four surrounding states which makes it a five-state racing venue,” Moldenhauer said. “It had the unanimous support of the other five racetracks in the state and it has no completion with other tracks in the marketplace.”

The state racing commission chose Horse Racing at Raton over two other applicants—Coronado Park Partners in Tucumcari and Pueblo of Pojoaque Development in Santa Fe—in vying for the state’s sixth and last racing license.  Under signed gaming compacts between the state and several American Indian tribes, the state can’t license more than six racinos.

Raton’s new track would join New Mexico’s five racetrack-casino combinations: The Downs at Albuquerque, SunRay Park, Sunland Park, Zia Park, and Ruidoso Downs.