Sunland Officially Cancels

Sunland Officially Cancels

At New Mexico Racing Commission meeting, Sunland Park has officially canceled its 2020-21 meet, Sam Bregman is elected chairman.

Valiant Tiberias 2019 Championship at Sunland Park

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Sunland Park Racetrack in southwestern New Mexico has officially canceled its 2020-21 race meet.

During its monthly meeting on Thursday, the New Mexico Racing Commission made a motion to cancel the Sunland Park meet, and the motion passed.

The commission originally awarded Sunland Park a 47-day Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse to meet to run from December 26-March 30. However, during a special commission meeting held on December 4, the track was granted permission to delay the start of its season by 30 days. When the dates were originally awarded, they were done so with the proviso that they were "subject to change due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic."

Sunland Park's 2019-20 season was cut short in mid-March at the onset of the pandemic. This forced the cancellation of the track's signature Thoroughbred race, the Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Derby, which offers qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby (G1), as well as several key Quarter Horse races, including the West Texas Futurity (G2) and New Mexican Spring Futurity (RG2).

Sunland Park's casino has remained closed due to the pandemic, and revenue from track casinos in New Mexico greatly help fuel the purses at all of the state's tracks. Sunland Park reopened its simulcast operations in June, but that reopening lasted just a few days.

Ruidoso Downs and The Downs at Albuquerque conducted live race meets last summer, but both tracks did so with limited attendance and their casinos remaining closed. Zia Park also conducted a live meet with reduced purses without its casino open, though a statewide public health order related to the pandemic forced that track to suspend live racing operations for several weeks in November.

SunRay Park is the next track in New Mexico scheduled to conduct live racing. Located near Farmington in the state's Four Corners region, SunRay Park's 17-date season is scheduled to open April 23 and run through May 24.

Also at Thursday's meeting, Sam Bregman was elected chairman of the New Mexico Racing Commission, according to a report in Daily Racing Form. Bregman is an attorney based in Albuquerque. He also served as assistant district of attorney for New Mexico from 1994-97 and on the Albuquerque city council from 1995-99.  He holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of New Mexico and a J.D. from the UNM School of Law.

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