When most people think about Hobbs, New Mexico, they think about the gas and oil industry there, but there’s another entertainment factor that impacts the local economy. It’s Zia Park, a hotel and casino that also offers horse racing as a main attraction.
“We run mixed, what we call a mixed meet, which is where we run two different breeds. We run quarter horses and thoroughbreds. We’re kind of unique in the industry. There’s not a lot of states that run what we call a mixed meet,” says Freddie Hutton, Director of Racing Operations at Zia Park. “We try to run 9 to 10 races a day, 4 days a week, so a little over 600 races over the amount of days we run the race meets.”
Zia Park is one of five horse race tracks in the state of New Mexico.
“We all have a set of specific dates that we all run. That gives the horseman opportunities to kind of bounce around each track, but stay within the state for the entire year,” he says. “Right now, the meet the way it’s structured, these are all people that call New Mexico home. We do have special days where we promote horseman from all around the country to come race with us.”
They also simulcast races from all over the country, like the Belmont Stakes and the Kentucky Derby. Hutton says it’s one big partnership between the racing side and the casino.
“We contribute quite a bit to the economic impact of Hobbs, no question,” he says.
The 750 slot machines also help that effort, along with the hotel that was built two years ago to accommodate gamers.
“They stay and they play, which is what every town wants, but we have the ability to kind of offer that as a good caveat for them to come and visit,” says Dora Chavarria, Hotel Sales Executive for Zia Park. “We handle a lot of promotions and we try to keep our players engaged by bringing in new things for them to experience.”
Chavarria says that’s what makes Zia Park a family friendly environment, because there is something for everyone.
The casino and hotel are open 365 days a year, but the live horse racing is only Saturday through Tuesday during the fall months. The hotel is located at 3901 W. Millen Drive in Hobbs, New Mexico.