04/26/2013 10:13AM

Zia Park: New $300K Oaks to be held in November


Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M., has created a $300,000 race for 3-year-old fillies as part of a record stakes schedule announced Thursday evening. The track, which operates a casino, opens a 56-date mixed meet for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses on Sept. 7. The stakes offerings for both breeds will top $3.9 million, the richest schedule in the history of Zia. The track opened in 2005.

The Zia Park Oaks will be run at a mile and a sixteenth on Nov. 23. The race was created with the goal of bringing the first graded Thoroughbred race to Zia.

“Looking at the stakes calendar around the country, we felt the 3-year-old filly division would benefit from a new, large-money spot at this time of the year,” Fred Hutton, who has been promoted to director of racing at Zia, said in a release. “It presents one final opportunity for these fillies to race within their age group and do so with enough space prior to races like the Houston Ladies Classic and the La Canada series in California.”

The Zia Park Oaks will also lead a new festival-like program of five Thoroughbred stakes worth $850,000. The Zia Park Derby, a mile and a sixteenth race now worth $200,000 after previously being valued at $150,000, will be on the card, as will the Zia Park Distance Championship, a mile and an eighth race for 3-year-olds and up that has a purse of $150,000.

The following day, on Nov. 24, the Grade 1, $150,000 Zia Park Distance Championship for Quarter Horses will be run over 440 yards, with the winner to now earn a berth into the Grade 1, $750,000 Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos.

Zia has also expanded its annual New Mexico Cup, a $1.8 million program of New Mexico-bred stakes to be run Oct. 27. The track has added the $120,000 Filly and Mare Sprint, which will be run over six furlongs. The new race brings the total of Thoroughbred stakes on the card to eight. There will also be four stakes for Quarter Horses.

Zia, which is owned by Penn Gaming, races through Dec. 3.