New Mexico Governor Names New Racing Commission
ALBUQUERQUE, NM—APRIL 25, 2019—According to an AP report published in the San Francisco Chronicle today (Thursday) New Mexico's Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham-D has appointed a new racing commission to oversee the state's horse racing industry.
Grisham said she expects the commissioners to be fair and equitable.
The appointments include two members who previously served as commissioners, as well as others who are involved in the racing industry. New commission members are:
- Beverly Bourguet, a commission member from 2011 to 2015, is a founding member of the Downs at Albuquerque Chaplaincy.
- David "Hossie" Sanchez, owner of San Bar Racing LLC, a commissioner from 2003 to 2009, has served on the New Mexico State Fair Commission since 2009.
- John Buffington, former chief operating officer of the San Juan Regional Medical Center, has decades of experience as an owner and breeder.
- Freda McSwane, an attorney from southern New Mexico, is an active owner and breeder.
- Billy G. Smith, an Albuquerque businessman and horse owner, has been involved in the racing industry since the 1970s.
"These five individuals are experienced and knowledgeable, and I have every confidence they will ably regulate and promote the continued development of this industry," Grisham said in a statement.
The new commission will also decide a contentious competition, from five proposals under consideration, for the final lucrative racino license in the state.
Under New Mexico's compacts with casino-operating tribes in the state, only six racinos are allowed. The five existing racino's are Zia Park in Hobbs, Ruidoso Downs in Ruidoso Downs, SunRay Park in Farmington, The Downs at Albuquerque in Albuquerque and Sunland Park in Sunland Park.
The outgoing commission put off a vote on the racino license last year, due to a legal dispute with one of the applicants that needed to be addressed before moving forward.
A proposed settlement with the applicants is pending, but it will be up to a judge to decide whether to dismiss the case. With the case pending, it could be a month before the new commission provides any insight into how it plans to handle the racino license.
The next commission meeting is scheduled May 16.