Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Disease outbreak threatens Sunland Park track

SUNLAND PARK – The brisk-paced daily hustle and bustle that usually engulfs Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino during the live racing season was missing again on Monday. In its place was yellow tape cautioning trainers, owners, jockeys, fans and tourists to stay out of the stables, where an equine virus has spread, forcing the racetrack to shutter racing for at least two weeks. The racing was stopped on Friday. “This has been hard on everyone,” trainer Justin Evans said. “It’s a situation where lots of good, hard-working people may go bankrupt. There is no money coming in from purses, but we still have to pay the bills. We’re hopeful that racing will be back soon, but there is the possibility that this could last for some time. We just want the horses to be safe and secure, that is the most important thing right now.” A two-week hiatus will impact the Sunland Park community, the racetrack and those who work in the horse racing industry. The average payout in purses per day at the track during the four days of live racing each week range from $200,000 to $250,000. Last Saturday, the $65,000 guaranteed Winsham Lad Handicap was canceled and on Sunday the $85,000 Enchantress Stakes was not run. This weekend, two showcase races were on the slate – the Riley Allison Derby ($100,000 added) and the El Paso Times Handicap ($65,000 guaranteed). Neither will run. The Riley Allison Derby was to be a potential prep race for the March 20, $800,000 Sunland Derby, the track’s biggest race of the year. The Sunland Derby is a key prep race for 3-year-old horses on their way to the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the thoroughbred Triple Crown. Now, even that major local race might be in jeopardy...more

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