12/04/2013 3:45PM

Zia Park average daily handle up 10 percent


Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M., realized a 10 percent increase in average daily handle at its 56-date meet that closed Tuesday, bolstered by a single-day handle record set on its inaugural Land of Enchantment program of seven stakes Nov. 27. The card’s centerpiece was the new $300,000 Zia Park Oaks won by Unusual Way.

Zia, which operates a mixed meet for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses, handled an average $435,229 a day on its live races from all sources this meet, compared to $394,890 from the corresponding, 54-date meet in 2012. Of the handle amount, $42,683 a day was bet ontrack on Zia’s races this meet, down 7 percent from 2012, and $392,546 offtrack, up 12 percent.

The numbers were driven in part by the $1.5 million that Zia handled on its 11-race Land of Enchantment program, which because of inclement weather had to be moved from a Sunday card to a Wednesday program. The previous record handle day for the track was $1 million, bet on the New Mexico Cup program of statebred stakes in 2009.

“This season by far exceeded our expectations,” said Fred Hutton, director of racing operations for Zia.

Justin Evans won the Zia title for the second consecutive year, with 60 wins from 235 starts for stable earnings of $1,012,478. Ry Eikleberry was the meet’s leading rider for the first time, with 58 wins from 279 starts, for mount earnings of $1,115,469. The meet’s leading owner was David Wilbanks, who compiled a 12-for-28 record, for earnings of $122,626.  

Zia is owned by Penn National Gaming.