05/15/2008 11:00PM

Seventeen stakes and record daily purses


Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M., has scheduled 17 stakes for Thoroughbreds during its mixed meet that opens on Sept. 13. The slots-rich track, which also runs Quarter Horses, will conduct a 53-day season through Dec. 9. Purses during the meet are projected to average a record $300,000 a day.

The stakes for Thoroughbreds are worth a cumulative $2 million. The schedule is led by the $200,000 Zia Park Distance Championship, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up on Dec. 7. The $150,000 Zia Park Derby, at 1 1/16 miles, will be run Dec. 6.

Other highlights of the Thoroughbred stakes schedule include the $150,000 Premiere Breeders' Cup Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs on Sept. 14. There are also seven Thoroughbred stakes on the $2 million New Mexico Cup program, which also includes four stakes for Quarter Horses. The program for New Mexico-breds will be run Nov. 9.

The Eddy County, which is for 2-year-olds at a mile, had been an open-company race and is now restricted to New Mexico-breds. The race has a purse of $120,000 and will be run on Dec. 7. The Eddy County is designed to serve as a prep race for the Red Hedeman Mile at Sunland Park.

All told, Zia has 14 stakes for Quarter Horses worth $2.1 million. There are five Grade 1 races for the breed, including the $250,000 Southwest Juvenile Championship on Nov. 30.

Zia boosted purses 17.9 percent from last year's daily average of $240,000. The track will race Saturday through Tuesday, with a special Friday card on Nov. 28.