With the impact of COVID-19 sparing few in the racing industry, including Zia Park, the New Mexico oval originally scheduled to commence its live meet on September 21 will now kick off its racing season on Monday, October 5.

Due to significantly reduced purse funds resulting from an ongoing shutdown of Zia Park’s casino operation starting on March 16, the New Mexico Racing Commission approved a reduction in the track’s live racing calendar from 54 to 36 dates with the meet running through Wednesday, December 23. The track will now operate on a three day a week schedule with live racing conducted on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with a 12:00 P.M. (Mountain) post time.

Currently, on-track spectators, including simulcasting, will not be permitted but will be evaluated in the future. If casino operations resume by November 1, Zia Park will add one racing date to each of the final four weeks of its 2020 season. Overnight purses are projected to be approximately $95,000 per day with Quarter Horse races comprising the first four races of each card with the final six featuring Thoroughbreds.

Due to the consolidated racing calendar and limited purse funds, the Hobbs America Futurity and Derby have been cancelled for 2020. All nomination fees for those Quarter Horse stakes will be refunded. Zia Park’s stakes schedule will be limited to state bred races, with the annual New Mexico Cup stakes to be raced over two days: Monday, November 9 for Quarter Horses and Wednesday, November 11 for Thoroughbreds.

Horsemen are reminded that registration certificates are due to the racing office by 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 25 in order to establish a “zero date” for entries.

“This year has been a roller coaster to date and while our 2020 season will be shortened, we are glad to be able to provide the New Mexico racing industry with a needed bridge in terms of racing opportunities and stabling,” said Zia Park vice president and general manager Bill Belcher.

The first condition book covering the first 12 race dates (through October 28) is available, and both horsemen and racing participants are encouraged to go to www.ziaparkcasino.com/racing for safety protocols to be implemented for the upcoming race meet.