07/24/2013 7:36AM

Zia Park Oaks moved from a Saturday to a Sunday


As a means of better showcasing its inaugural $300,000 Zia Park Oaks, Zia Park has pushed back the date of the mile and a sixteenth race for 3-year-old fillies a day, to Sunday, Nov. 24.

In addition, the four undercard stakes scheduled to support the Oaks, including the $200,000 Zia Park Derby and $150,000 Zia Park Championship, were moved to the same date in a change approved by the New Mexico Racing Commission.

The Zia Park Oaks will be the richest Thoroughbred race ever run at Zia, which opened in 2005 in Hobbs, N.M. The slots-rich track begins its annual mixed meet Sept. 7. The Zia Park Oaks was created with the hope of eventually landing the track its first graded stakes for Thoroughbreds.

“The decision to move the race to Sunday was little more than reexamining the landscape of the weekend and determining what made the most sense from a business perspective,” Fred Hutton, director of racing for Zia, said in a release. “The Zia Park stakes on Sunday [Nov. 24] should stand out in the national racing scene versus a more competitive Saturday, which included the Delta Jackpot from Delta Downs.”

The Zia Park Oaks will anchor a card of five stakes worth $850,000. The other races are the Zia Park Derby, for 3-year-olds at a mile and a sixteenth; the Zia Park Distance Championship, for 3-year-olds and up at a mile and an eighth; the $55,000 Zia Park Distaff for fillies and mares at six furlongs; and the $140,000 Eddy County Mile for 2-year-olds bred in New Mexico. Post is 12:15 p.m. Mountain.

As a result of the stakes shift, a pair of major Quarter Horse stakes will now be run on Nov. 23: the Grade 1 Zia Park Championship at 440 yards, and the $140,000 Filly and Mare Championship for New Mexico-breds. Those races had originally been scheduled for Nov. 24.

Zia’s stakes schedule is worth $3.9 million, a record for the track. Zia, which is owned by Penn Gaming, will race through Dec. 3.