Zia Park's 15th year of live racing will commence Saturday, September 21 featuring five trials for the Hobbs American Futurity for two-year-old Quarter Horses on the nine race card.
The 53-day mixed Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse race meet will boast a state leading $225,000 per day overnight purse structure, up 10% from 2018's purse distribution, as well as a stakes schedule worth $4 million. Zia Park will race every Saturday through Tuesday through December 18, with Wednesday racing cards on November 26 and closing day December 18. Saturdays will feature Quarter Horse races exclusively, while Sundays will host both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse races. Monday and Tuesday cards will highlight Thoroughbred races exclusively.
Stakes racing highlights include the $1.9 million New Mexico Cup Day on Sunday, October 27, the richest state bred racing day in the country, featuring four Quarter Horse and eight Thoroughbred races restricted to New Mexico-bred horses. The Wednesday, November 26 “Land of Enchantment” stakes card will feature seven open stakes worth $1 million headlined by the $250,000 Zia Park Derby and $250,000 Zia Park Oaks.
Director of Racing/Racing Secretary Mike Shamburg returns to Zia Park after serving in a similar capacity from 2008-2012. Shamburg had most recently been Director of Racing/Racing Secretary at Remington Park since 2012 and served as Racing Secretary at Lone Star Park from 2008 through 2018.
“I'm glad to be back at Zia Park and fortunate to have a great purse structure and a full barn area to start off the meet,” said Shamburg. “We have the right ingredients for another successful meet,” he added.
The 2019 Zia Park meet comes on the heels of a 2018 season that saw gains of 2.7% in live handle and 24% in the export market over the prior year.
Champion riders in 2017 and 2018 on both the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse side, Ry Eikleberry and Esgar Ramirez, respectively, will be back shooting for riding title hat tricks, while perennial top five trainers Todd Fincher and Justin Evans will return with full 60 horse barns.
Additionally, new track surfaces consultant John Jamison has been working since early summer on a revamped track surface. Noted nationally for his track work with a focus on equine safety, Jamison this year has worked as track superintendent at Sunland Park and Canterbury Park. He previously worked as the starter at Zia Park in 2014.
On the wagering menu side a new 50-cent Pick 5 wager will be available on the Thoroughbred only race cards on the final five races and, if no one selects all five winners, will have a 50% net pool payout to those with the most winners and a 50% carryover provision.
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