RUIDOSO DOWNS, New Mexico (September 23, 2014) — Calling those who attempt to cheat a “cancer to horse racing,” Ruidoso Downs Race Track chairman R.D. Hubbard announced the first steps in a program to deal with those who would attempt to break the rules of racing in “our on-going effort to ensure the integrity and safety of the sport and its participants.”
“We are announcing today,” Hubbard said, “the first of several steps that will ensure that those who participate in the major futurities and derbies at Ruidoso will be able to compete on a level playing field through added efforts to deter and potentially catch anyone who would attempt to drug a horse, thus ensuring the welfare of the horses and jockeys and eliminating unfair advantages for all participants. We simply will not tolerate such illegal behavior.”
These steps are being taken in coordination with the American Quarter Horse Association, through its president Johnny Trotter. “We are working closely with Johnny in developing these steps and look forward to continued coordination with him and the AQHA in following through on these steps as well as other steps still to be announced,” Hubbard said.
Specifically, the first phase of the program involves new track rules that will be put in place prior to the 2015 Ruidoso Downs’ racing season. All of the rules will be clearly identified to all owners and trainers through the stall applications and condition books. In addition, the current nomination blanks require all owners abide by all rules of the New Mexico Racing Commission and the track. The new rules include:
All horses must be on the grounds in the Ruidoso barn area 10 days before running in the trials of each of the Ruidoso Triple Crown futurities and derbies run during the Ruidoso race season. Total estimated purses for the six Grade 1 futurities and derbies is more than $8.5 million. There is also a $4 million bonus to the connections of any horse who can sweep the three futurities.
All horses that qualify for the finals of one of the futurities or derbies will be required to stay on the grounds through the running of the finals.
All horses will be subject to a “roll call” at any time during these periods. These “spot checks” will be conducted by (but not limited to) the horse identifier and track security.
The track will install new surveillance cameras at the stable gate(s), test barn along with barns and stalls of the 20 qualifiers to the futurities and derbies.
The new rules will require that any horse not in compliance will be scratched from the trials and/or finals.
“These new rules will ensure that horses getting ready to participate in the trials or finals of our major ultra-rich races will remain under the direct supervision of both the race track and the New Mexico Racing Commission security and surveillance,” Hubbard added. “Studies have found that many of those instances of medicating horses have been done while the horse is stabled off track. This will help overcome that problem.”
Furthermore, Ruidoso Downs is working with the New Mexico Racing Commission and the American Quarter Horse Association on additional steps that will be announced soon on enhanced testing and search procedures that will further ensure racing’s integrity.
“I have been competing in horse racing for over 50 years and I love the sport,” Hubbard said. “I will not stand idly by and watch anyone attempt to ruin the sport without doing all that the NMRC, AQHA and Ruidoso Downs can to stop it and then pursuing whatever criminal charges are available to ensure that they are severely punished.”
Mr. Hubbard, Ruidoso Downs and the AQHA have been at the forefront of efforts to curb those who would attempt to break the rules of racing for several years. They worked closely with the New Mexico Racing Commission to strengthen the penalties on perpetrators that have resulted in suspensions and fines that are 10 and 20 times greater than ever done before. The Commission and Ruidoso Downs further successfully worked together to gain additional funding from the Governor and Legislature that resulted in additional and better testing that has significantly curbed drug violations already.
“I must emphasize that we are not yet finished,” added Hubbard. “There will be additional steps that we are currently working on that will be announced in the weeks ahead.”
Anyone wishing more information may call nominations secretary Annelle Reynolds at 575-378-7210 or media relations director Ty Wyant at 575-378-7202.