New Mexico Horsemen Frustrated As Zia Park Fails To Open For Training As Scheduled

According to a contract with the New Mexico Horsemen’s Association, Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M., was to have opened for training on Wednesday, Sept. 15. Instead, horsemen were turned away from the racetrack due to the lack of a staffed ambulance on-site.

NMHA President Roy Manfredi told the Paulick Report that the horsemen’s attorney contacted Zia Park’s attorney, who relayed that the county’s only EMT had been pulled away by a family emergency, thus the track was unable to provide an EMT for morning training.

Racing at Zia Park is scheduled to begin on Sept. 26, but video posted on social media showing the track’s backstretch appears to demonstrate a lack of preparedness for the meet. Manure is still piled up, and large weeds have taken over much of the backstretch area.

When you see the condition of the backside, it doesn’t appear they planned on running,” Manfredi said.

The contract between Zia and the NMHA dictates that trainers be allowed onto the backstretch on Sept. 9 to begin preparing their stalls, and that horses be allowed to ship in on Sept. 12 while training was to begin on Sept. 15. Now, the latest information indicates that it may not be until Saturday that the track is open for training.

In addition to the lack of an EMT, no outriders have arrived at the track to oversee safety during training hours. Both deficits are in direct violation of New Mexico Racing Commission rules.

However, the racing commission and the horsemen’s association are engaged in an ongoing legal battle, with the horsemen charging the regulatory body with depriving racehorse owners and trainers of their civil rights and other violations, and thus no direct contact between the parties is allowed.

“It’s my contention that this is a racing commission problem, because they’re in violation of racing commission rules,” said Manfredi. “We have had our attorney send a letter to the racing commission’s attorney, asking them to step in, and we’re waiting to hear back.”

Another issue brought forward by Zia Park, according to Manfredi, is the rise of COVID-19 cases in New Mexico. Gov. Michelle Grisham is expected to announce new mandates on Thursday, Sept. 16, and Manfredi said the NMHA will issue directives to its members to follow those mandates.

If Zia Park continues to fail to meet the directives stipulated in its contract with the horsemen, the NMHA has the option to pull the simulcast signal from the track.

“We’re not there yet,” Manfredi said.

Images showing the backstretch of Zia Park on Wednesday, Sept. 15

The post New Mexico Horsemen Frustrated As Zia Park Fails To Open For Training As Scheduled appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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