Racino delays could open door for Tucumcari

Freedom New Mexico

Construction delays on the Raton racino could open the door for Tucumcari to lure it to Quay County.

Logan attorney Warren Frost, president of the Quay County Gaming Authority, said he has mailed a letter to the New Mexico Racing Commission stating Tucumcari’s continued interest in building a racino, which is a racetrack combined with a casino.

“I let them know that we are ready and willing,” Frost said.

Raton was awarded the racino in August 2008, beating out groups from Tucumcari and Santa Fe. Live racing was scheduled to start by this spring but may not be ready and the commission says a temporary casino tent could be set up by the early April allowing bets to be placed on races at other tracks.

The delays are normal with any track construction, said India Hatcher, Deputy Director of the New Mexico Racing Commission.

“The license says that they wanted to have live racing by Memorial Day,” Hatcher said. “That deadline was agreed on by the developers and the commission.”

Hatcher said if the track did not have live racing by the end of the year, the developers would have to re-apply for a license, which could open the door for Tucumcari.

If the developers — Horse Racing at Raton owned by Toronto businessman Michael Moldenhauer — are unable to meet the deadlines in the license, they will be able to discuss it at the March 18 commission meeting, according to Hatcher.

“This meeting could be critical for the developers,” Hatcher said.

Moldenhauer could not be reached for comment.

Coronado Park Partners, led by Rio Rancho businessman Don Chalmers, put together the bid with the Quay County Gaming Authority for the racino in Tucumcari.

“Tucumcari needs something like this to boost the economy,” Frost said.