Ruidoso Downs Race Track and the New Mexico Racing Commission will employ ‘super testing’ — including pre-race testing — for the 2015 Ruidoso Triple Crown races.
Additionally, the most extensive surveillance camera system in quarter horse racing history will be installed in the Ruidoso Downs’ stable area for the 2015 racing season to continually monitor horses in the track’s six Triple Crown races.
“This is a momentous day in quarter horse racing,” Ruidoso chairman of the board R.D. Hubbard said. “It’s vitally important to work with the New Mexico Racing Commission to make the future brighter. Now it’s brighter than it’s been in years and I’ve been in racing for 50 years.”
The 2015 racing season starts on Memorial Day weekend and the impact of these changes starts on opening day with the first of two days of Ruidoso Futurity trials.
“We are very pleased to work with the Commission on developing additional and enhanced testing that will further advance the Ruidoso Triple Crown races as the most scrutinized races in the country. These six races offer a combined $8.5 million in purse money. Ruidoso Downs and the Racing Commission are united and determined to make every effort to ensure everyone plays on a level playing field,” Hubbard said.
The new testing steps Ruidoso Downs and the New Mexico Racing Commission will implement include:
All testing will be ‘super testing’ as outlined in the protocol developed by the Jockey Club in Lexington, Kentucky.
At least the top-three finishers in every trial race will be tested.
All Triple Crown qualifiers will be subject to pre-race testing and will be randomly tested at any time between the trials and the finals.
The Racing Commission will work in conjunction with the New Mexico State Police to ensure that all off-site testing throughout the year will be done cooperatively.
“These new steps with the Commission are in addition to the track policies announced recently that requires all qualifiers to the Ruidoso Triple Crown races to remain stabled on the grounds at Ruidoso during the period between the trials and the finals, and the new 24-7 surveillance equipment,” Hubbard said. “The track policies and new standards by the Commission go hand-and-hand in tightening the noose around anyone who thinks they need not abide by the rules.”
The new surveillance system includes at least four high-quality cameras installed in the stalls and shedrow of each qualifier. The recordings will continue throughout the period between the trials and finals. Racing officials and investigators will review these recordings at any time.
These cameras are an addition to the surveillance equipment previously announced. That equipment will be installed at the stable gates and the test barn.
The New Mexico Racing Commission confirmed their support on Thursday morning. “The New Mexico Racing Commission is wholeheartedly supporting these more stringent actions at Ruidoso Downs,” said NMRC executive director Vince Mares. “Along with Ruidoso Downs and American Quarter Horse Association, we will diligently work together. Racing integrity for our fans is the highest of priorities.”
Ruidoso Downs previously announced steps that included that all trial entrants must be on the race track grounds 10 days prior to trials, all qualifiers must be stabled on the grounds from the trials through the finals of the six major futurities and derbies, and all qualifiers will be subject to random “roll calls” so the identifier can ensure the finalists are on the property.
“The enhanced super testing, the pre-race testing, out-of-competition testing and the surveillance system are each major steps that have never been taken on a major scale in quarter horse racing,” Hubbard said. “We are so grateful that the Racing Commission and AQHA are working jointly with us to ensure the highest integrity for these major races.”
Ruidoso Downs was at the forefront of stricter measures announced in the past few years, working with the Racing Commission and New Mexico Governor Susanna Martinez to obtain funding for additional testing and putting into place very strong penalties that have resulted in suspensions of up to 20 years and thousands of dollars in fines.
“I want to add that we are not done yet,” Hubbard said. “We are working cooperatively with the Racing Commission, AQHA and Racing Free on additional steps, so stay tuned. We will not be deterred and are totally committed to this effort.”