Secretary, Starter Named at Zia
Junk and Jamison working at Zia's fall meet.
July 7, 2014
Two new, but familiar faces will be part of the Zia Park racing team as the Hobbs, New Mexico, track prepares for its 10th season of Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred racing opening on September 6.
Robbie Junk, racing secretary for Zia Park’s inaugural season in 2005 and current racing secretary at Sunland Park, will return to the position and also coordinate stall applications that are due on July 18. Johnnie Jamison, a veteran starter and New Mexico native whose last assignment was Indiana Grand, will be Zia Park’s new starter.
“Bringing on Robbie and Johnnie adds a tremendous amount of depth and experience to our racing team,” said Zia Park Director of Racing Operations Fred Hutton. “Both have been highly respected wherever they have worked, both know the New Mexico horsemen and racing industry, and we’re thrilled to have them.”
Junk, 54, has worked in numerous racing offices since 1989, including Zia, Sunland, and Ruidoso Downs. With his familiarity of New Mexico racing, one of his top goals will be to attract more stables to run in Zia Park’s rich program of open Thoroughbred races. Zia Park’s Thoroughbred races received a boost in 2013 with the creation of the Land of Enchantment Day highlighted by the inaugural $300,000 Zia Park Oaks won by California invader Unusual Way. Zia Park also hosted the richest state-bred day of racing in the United States in 2013 on New Mexico Cup Day. The 12 stakes races for New Mexico-breds featured purses totaling $2 million.
“With the type of purse structure we have at Zia Park, I’m going to focus on trying to get some new people to come here in order to bolster our field sizes for the bettors and make our overall racing program stronger,” Junk said.
Being the new starter at Zia Park will be a homecoming for Jamison, 57, whose first positions as a starter were in 1987 at The Downs at Albuquerque and The Downs at Santa Fe in New Mexico. The third-generation horseman grew up in the state, where his father, O.D. Jamison Sr., has been a trainer for more than 50 years. Johnnie Jamison comes to Zia Park from Indiana Grand Racing and Casino where he has been track superintendent and starter.
“I’ve been very fortunate to start some of the bigger races in the nation for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses,” Jamison said. “I do a lot of homework. I take copious notes on every horse that I see come to the gate.”
Zia Park will run a 56-day meet for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses in 2014 from September 6 to December 2. In conjunction with the opening of a 154-room hotel overlooking the racetrack and paddock area in August, Zia Park has also made approximately $1 million in renovations to the racetrack, including a redesigned Turf Club with 65 new high-definition televisions, new seating areas, a repainted grandstand and improvements to the stable area.
“We’ve made great strides with the quality of our racing and our facilities in the last few years,” Hutton said. “These are exciting times at Zia Park.”
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