11/23/2013 7:32PM

Zia Park reschedules weekend stakes for Wednesday


Zia Park has received approval from the New Mexico Racing Commission to move a group of stakes lost to inclement weather Saturday and Sunday to a special Wednesday program. The track had carded seven major races over the two-day span, with Sunday’s inaugural $300,000 Zia Park Oaks the centerpiece of a program with five stakes worth $845,000.

Zia Park said late Saturday that it had received verbal approval for the Wednesday card and for an additional makeup card Friday catering to overnight races. 

Zia canceled after the first race Saturday, and with four inches of snow due overnight, officials decided to also cancel Sunday’s program, said Fred Hutton, the director of racing operations for the track. The decision Saturday, when the track experienced freezing rain, came after consultation with the jockey colony at Zia Park.

“Their concern is that it was just too cold,” Hutton said. “If you can’t feel your hands and you’re trying to negotiate the turns on a 1,200-pound horse … it’s a recipe for something to happen. We’re totally behind them. The [encouraging] thing was that it’s not the track surface [freezing]. The surface was in excellent shape.” 

The Zia Park Oaks, which lured shippers from Southern California and Oklahoma, was to have shared a Sunday program with the $200,000 Zia Park Derby, which drew Broadway Empire from Arizona; the $150,000 Distance Championship at 1 1/8 miles; the $100,000 Eddy County for 2-year-olds bred in New Mexico; and the $55,000 Zia Park Distaff.

Zia was to have run two major Quarter Horse stakes Saturday, led by the Grade 1, $150,000 Zia Park Distance Championship at 440 yards, a race that offered its winner a berth into the Grade 1, $750,000 Champion of Champions.

Zia is experiencing unseasonably cold weather, with forecasts calling for temperatures in the low 20s on Saturday night, according to The Weather Channel.