07/09/2010 12:00AM

Zia schedules 17 Thoroughbred stakes


The $200,000 Zia Park Distance Championship and the $150,000 Zia Park Derby are the most prestigious Thoroughbred stakes that will be run during Zia Park's mixed meet that opens Sept. 11. The 53-date season, which also features races for Quarter Horses, extends to Dec. 7.

Zia, the Hobbs, N.M., track which operates a slots casino, will have 17 stakes for Thoroughbreds and several rich offerings for Quarter Horses. The Derby, a 1 1/16-mile race Dec. 4, and Distance Championship, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up Dec. 5, are annually run closing weekend. Those races, as well as several other staples during the Zia meet, regularly attract horses from around the Midwest and California.

"We try to work with the Midwest, stay off other stakes in the region, like Oklahoma's," said Mike Shamburg, racing secretary at Zia.

The $100,000 Premiere Cup Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs traditionally kicks off the Thoroughbred portion of the stakes schedule and often draws horses from out of state. It will be run Sept. 12.

The other focal point of the stakes schedule is the $2 million New Mexico Cup program on Oct. 31. It will feature a full card of New Mexico-bred stakes, for both Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses. Highlights of the program include the $180,000 Rocky Gulch for 3-year-olds and up and the $170,000 Peppers Pride for fillies and mares. There also is the $350,000 New Mexico Classic Futurity for Quarter Horses.