08/06/2007 12:00AM

Statebreds get shot at $1.6M


The slots-rich Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M., will put on one of racing's most lucrative programs for statebreds on Nov. 11, when it offers more than $1.6 million for the New Mexico Cup. The program comprises 11 stakes for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses bred in New Mexico. It is the highlight of the fall mixed meet that will open on Sept. 22.

New Mexico Cup Day will feature seven stakes for Thoroughbreds, each worth a minimum of $140,000. They cover a variety of divisions, highlighted by the Classic, a one-mile race for 3-year-olds and up that has a purse of $180,000. Last year, Rocky Gulch became a millionaire when he won the Classic.

Another high point of a 32-race stakes schedule, which has 18 events for Thoroughbreds, is the $175,000 Zia Park Championship. The 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up is the richest open-company stakes on the calendar for Thoroughbreds. It will be run the final weekend of the meet, on Dec. 9.

The first Thoroughbred stakes of the season is the $150,000 Premiere Breeders' Cup, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds and up on Sept. 23. Other races of note include the $100,000 Zia Park Derby, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds on Dec. 8.

The three richest races of the meet are for Quarter Horses, each worth $250,000. The Hobbs America Futurity and the Hobbs America Derby are on Oct. 14, and the Southwest Juvenile Championship is on Dec. 2.