Tribe Seeks to Reopen Santa Fe Racetrack

The Pojoaque Pueblo tribe has filed an application with the New Mexico Racing Commission to reopen The Downs at Santa Fe, which would become the sixth racetrack in the state. The tribe wants to begin live racing in 2007 and also hopes to install slot machines.

The Pojoaque Pueblo purchased The Downs at Santa Fe in 1996 and conducted racing for one year.

India Hatch, executive director of the racing commission, confirmed receipt of the application. "We will do an agency review and see if it is complete before it moves along in the process," she said.

The tribe would need approval of both the racing commission and the New Mexico Gaming Control Board.

New Mexico has four operating tracks: the Downs at Albuquerque, Ruidoso Downs, Sunland Park, and Sun Ray Park. Zia Park, located in Hobbs, is licensed and scheduled to open in September.

In other business, the racing commission ordered arbitration in a dispute between The Downs at Albuquerque and the New Mexico Horseman's Association after the track requested a larger cut of the revenue generated by out-of-state simulcasts. The track currently receives $900 per day for out-of-state simulcasts and receives 5% of the total take on in-state simulcast races. The current payment was set in 1998.

Hatch said the track is requesting a new contract with the horsemen that would increase the amount of money it receives to the maximum 5% on both in-state and out-of-state simulcasts.
"This represents a pretty substantial increase," Hatch said. "Where they will eventually go with this I'm not sure."

The Downs at Albuquerque has submitted a list of expenses associated with simulcast operations on a daily basis. Hatch said the commission would like to have the dispute settled as quickly as possible.