Downs at ABQ Posts Increases in Handle, Purses

The track's purses rose 20 percent during the 55-day meet, which ended September 27

Edited press release

The Downs at Albuquerque paid purses of more than $9.7 million during its 2015 season.

The Downs at Albuquerque ended its 2015 race meet on September 27, registering substantial increases in purses and wagering handle.

During the 55-day split meet, which ran April 17-June 18 and continued from September 11-27, The Downs paid horsemen $9,731,741 in purses, an increase of 20 percent over the $8,093,454 paid during the track’s 54-day season in 2014. The Downs paid average purses of $176,940 per day, up 18 percent from last year’s average of $149,879, and the track’s average-per-race purse of $18,860 marked an increase of 8 percent over the $17,518 average in 2014.

The purse increases improved the quality of racing at The Downs, and that was reflected in the track’s wagering handle. A total of $11,513,592 was bet on the track’s live races, an increase of 29 percent over last year’s total handle of $8,134,617. Daily average handle reached $209,338, up 39 percent over last year’s average of $150,641, and the per-race handle of $22,313 marked a 27-percent increase over the 2014 average of $17,607.

The Downs’ had some outstanding performances on the track as well. JRC Callas First, a 5-year-old gelding racing for Brian and Dana Stroud and the reigning American Quarter Horse Association world champion, won the inaugural running of the 440-yard, $200,000 Downs at Albuquerque Fall Championship on closing day.

Another noteworthy Quarter Horse performance saw Astica, a homebred 3-year-old daughter of Jesse James Jr and 2009 champion 3-year-old filly Alice K White, break the 400-yard track record in the May 10, $60,000 Pelican Stakes (R) for state-bred 3-year-old fillies. Trained by Wes Giles for Mac and Janis Murray’s MJ Farms at Veguita, New Mexico, Astica went 400 yards in :18.912.

“We’d like to continue our momentum by bringing all of our big races back next year,” said Downs director of racing Don Cook. “One of the next steps will be to get these races graded. We think the money is there. We just need to stay consistent with their purses and conditions.

“Our Quarter Horse Championship was a huge success; drawing the world champion for the race was a nice feather in our cap,” he added. “I think it’s just going to continue to grow and continue drawing the top horses in the country.

The Downs at Albuquerque has also embarked on a renovation project of its grandstand, which is located in the heart of the city at Expo New Mexico.

A new stand-alone parking lot for racing fans, located at the south end of the grandstand and accessible from the casino entrance off of Louisiana Blvd., opened in September. Grandstand building renovations include a new entrance on the south end, removing the glass from the seating area, enlarging the saddling paddock area and winner’s circle, and raising the apron of the grandstand so that it’s level with the racetrack itself.

“We’re giving our paddock area a more park-like atmosphere,” Cook said. “And, we feel that removing the glass from the grandstand and raising the apron so that it’s eye-level with the track will improve the sightlines for our fans.

“All of these renovations are being done to improve the customer experience,” he added.

For more information on The Downs at Albuquerque, visit the track’s website at www.abqdowns.com, or “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ABQDowns.

AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHARacing on Twitter, “like” Q-Racing on Facebook and visit www.aqharacing.com.