The operators of the Downs at Albuquerque are considering nighttime horse races at Expo New Mexico because they believe such evening activities could attract new customers — and more revenue.
Since the decision was made some years back to keep the fairgrounds in the heart of the city, and the Downs is an anchor of the fairgrounds, it’s a move that makes sense. And Expo New Mexico and the area in which it is located could certainly use an economic shot in the arm.
Horsemen generally have saddled up in support, but some neighbors have reacted with surprise and concern.
To offer night races, the Downs would have to request a change in its racing license application. After a public hearing, the state Racing Commission could send the idea to the starting gate or back to the barn.
Downs officials have not announced a definite decision, but they are seeking bids on installation of lights purchased years ago. Downs General Manager Darren White says lighting the track and having night races are “part of the overall plan that coincides with the new casino and renovation of the grandstand.”
He said Downs officials will meet with neighbors after a decision is made whether to seek the change.
For years there had been talk of moving the fairgrounds outside the city center and redeveloping the Expo site, but during the Richardson administration it was decided to keep it at its urban East Central location.
In 2011 the Martinez administration awarded it a new 25-year lease that included construction of a casino.
Since the state has made a long-term commitment to keep the Expo inside Albuquerque, it’s reasonable to let racino owners maximize its potential.
— Albuquerque Journal