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New Mexico horse owners suffer without Sunland Park racing

SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico -- The entire racing season at Sunland Park was officially canceled on Feb. 18 after being on hold for months, and it has now forced many horse owners and trainers to reassess their situation.

Some have chosen to make the tough call and move their entire stable elsewhere to ensure their livelihood and that of their staffs. 

Others have chosen to stay put because moving would cost too much money. In turn, they've had to sell some horses to keep others fed and stay afloat. 

“If we were to have ran our full meet, they wouldn’t have made any money here,” said Rick Baugh, the general manager of Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino. “There just wasn’t enough purse money to go around.”

The driver of purse money is the casino and because it had been closed until just recently, the purse money was very limited. 

According to Baugh, it was at an approximate $1.4 million, which wouldn't go very far at Sunland Park.

“I didn’t feel like it was fair that we take our purse money, which was the only purse money left in the state,” Baugh explained, “and we run a 20-day meet and Ruidoso Downs would have no purse money.”

As a result, Sunland Park passed along all of its remaining purse money to Ruidoso Downs, to help keep the racing community in New Mexico going.

While it does give some owners an opportunity, many are still frustrated that Sunland Park hasn’t done more to help them.

The cancelled Sunland Park season was originally scheduled to start Dec. 26 and finish March 30 with 47 days of racing. 

Article Topic Follows: New Mexico

Rachel Phillips

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