Racing commission defers action on Coronado proposal
Last updated 6/21/2022 at 4:11pm
The New Mexico Racing Commission apparently will decide later whether to approve or reject Coronado Partners’ application for a sixth license that would allow it to build a horse-racing track and casino in Tucumcari.
The commission discussed the application and two other items during a closed executive session during its regular meeting Thursday, but it took no action when open session resumed.
Albuquerque judge Nancy Franchini on June 3, granting Coronado’s writ of mandamus request to compel the commission to perform its official duties, subsequently ordered the commission to act within 90 days whether to accept or reject the license request.
The racing commission’s next regular meetings are scheduled for July 21 and Aug. 18, both which would be within the 90-day timeframe to comply with Franchini’s order.
During the public comment portion of the meeting Thursday, Coronado Partners’ lawyer and principal Warren Frost of Logan made a pitch for the Tucumcari racetrack and casino. He offered to answer any questions about the application and invited commissioners to tour the proposed site on the city’s east side.
“I don’t think there’s that many state agencies that can have such an important impact on a community,” Frost said. “This is going to create a new racetrack and create over 500 jobs. It would be game-changer for not only our county and our entities, but the entire eastern side of the state. I would like you to keep that in mind — that the economic engine that this sixth racetrack would be if you consider granting this license.”
Frost told the Quay County Sun earlier this month even if the racing commission rejects the application, he would appeal that decision to Franchini, who holds jurisdiction over the case.
“If she finds that the Commission’s reasons for denying the license are invalid, she can order them to issue us a license,” Frost stated in an email.
The commission had planned to award a license in late 2019, but that was derailed by an injunction by the Lordsburg applicant.
The commission had planned to discuss and possibly act on a license in April 2020, but newly elected governor Michelle Lujan Grisham fired the commissioners and replaced them before the meeting took place.
The issue of a sixth license never was placed on the new commission’s agenda until January this year, after Frost filed his writ petition.
Franchini rejected arguments from racing commission director Ismael “Izzy” Trejo during a May hearing that it could not award the sixth remaining horse-racing license because of a variety of issues, including the fragility of the thoroughbred and racing industries in New Mexico.
“Mr. Trejo’s opinion that ‘it just isn’t the right time’ to consider and application for the sixth racetrack license does not affect the NMHRC’s duty to issue a decision on the Petitioner’s application,” Franchini wrote in her ruling.