NM racing panel OKs license for track in Raton

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By The Staff

ALBUQUERQUE — Horse racing may be returning to Raton.

The New Mexico Racing Commission approved the license application by Horse Racing at Raton on Monday, making way for the construction of the proposed $50 million track. The proposed horse racetrack and casino could begin live racing as early as 2010.

Commissioners picked among Raton, in northeastern New Mexico, and two rival applicants: Coronado Park Partners in Tucumcari and Pueblo of Pojoaque Development in Santa Fe.

Raton was home to the state’s first racetrack, La Mesa Park, which opened in 1946 and closed in 1992.

“New Mexico started its horse-racing history in Raton and we’re pleased it’s going back,” said developer Michael Moldenhauer, who has proposed building the facility at a 225-acre site south of Raton.

The so-called “racino” is expected to generate 300 permanent jobs.

Rep. Thomas Garcia, D-Ocat, praised the state’s decision.

“I greatly appreciate the support of the racing commission in granting the final license to Raton,” Garcia said in a statement. “By awarding the license to Raton, northeast New Mexico will greatly benefit from the economic impact of bringing back the racing tradition to Raton.”

Garcia said he unequivocally supported Raton’s bid for the license.

Garcia said he solidified his position by formally contacting the racing commission on several occasions verbally and in writing supporting the proposal.

Garcia’s final correspondence was provided to the racing commissioners on Friday, as they were preparing to finalize their decision.