New Mexico Hoping Texans Reject Pari-Mutuel Racing

Article excerpt

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) - The issue of legalized pari-mutuel horse racing in Texas now is in the hands of the voters in that state, and it promises to be a referendum that will draw major attention from horse racing interests in New Mexico.

The owner of The Downs at Santa Fe said legalizing pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing in Texas would have to have a negative fall out on the race industry in New Mexico.

And Ken Newton, who also runs a spring meet at the state fairgrounds in Albuquerque, said he hoped Texans would reject the proposal when it comes to a vote.

Texas Gov. Mark White paved the way for that vote Wednesday when he announced in Austin he would allow a bill that could legalize pari-mutuel wagering on horse and dog races to become law without his signature.

The bill, approved during a special legislative session that ended Sept. 4, calls for a statewide referendum in November 1987 on whether to legalize pari-mutuel wagering in Texas for the first timein half a century.

Newton said even if he knew for sure the measure would pass, it would be difficult to analyze what affect Texas racing would have on New Mexico without knowing such things as racing dates and typesof facilities.

""There's a lot of ifs,'' he said.

But he also said, ""There's no question it has to affect New Mexico in some negative ways in attendance and so on. When you open new racing markets, it's going to affect the neighboring states enjoying the patronage from that area.''

He said he would expect that initially Texas racing would mean a drop in the quality of horses running in New Mexico because Texas owners would keep some horses home that otherwise would be sent here.

Newton also said there's the possibility that the state could lose some top jockeys and trainers to the Texas tracks, which could sprout up in major population centers such as Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston.

""That's quite a step up,'' he said. ""We're not what you could call a major league racing state.''

But Newton said all was not bleak.

He said the initial lessening in the quality of horses would be overcome by the breeding industry in Texas, which he said would increase the number of horses since the number of tracks would be increased in the regional area.

The development of the racing industry in Texas also could spawn more patrons who in turn might be drawn to New Mexico by racing and the state's other attractions such as climate, Newton said. …

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