New Mexico Governor Demands Change To Horse Racing Industry

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on August 29, 2023
lujan grisham speaking amid starry background

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is demanding immediate change to the New Mexico horse racing industry. 

The urgency from the governor follows the recent deaths of seven horses at Ruidoso Downs racetrack, which will host the All American Futurity on Labor Day weekend. 

New Mexico Governor demanding change

In a letter sent to the New Mexico Racing Commission, Gov. Grisham demanded regulators make changes to address the use of performance-enhancing drugs. 

The governor wrote:

“As you know, horse racing in New Mexico has a long and distinguished history. I am sad to say that it appears that legacy has been utterly and irreparably tarnished by the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs.”

Gov. Grisham continued:

“While the commission may not have created these problems, the commission has completely failed to take proactive measures to fix or address the problems in any meaningful way.”

Grisham outlined several new standards that the governor said should be mandated at all horse tracks in New Mexico.

Standards include:

  • Pre-race evaluations for all horses
  • Blood draws with complete blood counts for all horses
  • Continuous monitoring of horses in their stalls during and after training before a race
  • Pre-approving all medications and maintaining the dispensers for analysis
  • More robust requirements for home-training horses to be onsite prior to races so that the horses can be observed

Only the beginning 

In addition, the governor wants state regulators to consult with other states, such as Kentucky, California and New York, to better understand best practices. 

In 2012, the New York Times uncovered a doping scandal within the NM horse racing industry. As a result, the horse racing industry has struggled to return to its golden years. 

According to the Associated Press, Racing Commission Executive Director Ismael Trejo said testing machines were running around the clock. Trejo also said a special meeting was scheduled for Monday to address the governor’s concerns.

Grisham said by implementing uniform regulations, the state can set a precedent that will ensure the long-term viability of horse racing in New Mexico. 

The governor concluded her letter by writing:

“This is not a request; I am directing you to act now.”

Photo by AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick Garcia is a senior reporter for PlayUSA. Garcia provides analysis and in-depth coverage of the gambling industry with a key focus on online casinos, sports betting and financial markets. Garcia has been covering the US gambling market since 2017. He attended Texas Tech University as an undergrad and received a Master of Arts in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago.

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