Saturday, February 20, 2021

With Sunland Meet Cancelled, New Mexico Racing in Disarray

There hasn't been any racing in New Mexico since Dec. 23, but trainer Lynette Baldwin stayed behind, setting up shop at a training center and waiting for good news. For the longest time, there has been none. “I kept hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel,” Baldwin said. “That's all we asked. Just give us a chance.” On Thursday, Baldwin's situation went from bad to worse. She turned down stalls at Turf Paradise hoping that Sunland Park would eventually open. Instead, a ruling issued by the New Mexico Racing Commission allowed the track to cancel its entire 2021 meet, which was scheduled to run through Mar. 30. That also meant that the GIII Sunland Derby would not be run for the second consecutive year. “This was a devastating decision for the horsemen,” said New Mexico Horsemen's Association Executive Director Richard Erhard. “We had no inkling that they would out and out cancel the meet. This is another nail in the coffin of New Mexico racing.” As has been the case in many states, the New Mexico tracks went dark last March because of the coronavirus. But New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham eventually allowed them to reopen without spectators. After a two-month absence, racing returned to New Mexico on May 22 at Ruidoso Downs. The problem for racing was that the governor has yet to give the green light for the casinos in the state to open up. With the casino monies no longer available to fund purses, Sunland management has argued that it cannot run...MORE

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