The Quay County Sun spoke with Warren Frost, Quay County Gaming Authority director, by phone Monday. Frost discussed the upcoming application process for New Mexico’s last racing license.
What are Tucumcari’s chances of getting this racing license?
How do you think the changing lineup of the state racing commission will affect who gets the license?
I think it’s going to be helpful. The chairman of the racing commission, Marty Cope, who recently resigned, she was a big supporter of Raton because she’s from Hobbs and she doesn’t want ... she was trying to keep the next track as far away from Hobbs as possible, so having her gone is going to be beneficial to us in my opinion.
How about the change at the governor’s office? How will that affect the decision?
I’m impressed with the new governor. It appears to me that she’s making decisions in her administration based on merit and making good business decisions and that couldn’t be said for the previous administration where there was a lot of cronyism and so I think that all bodes well for us. All we’ve ever asked of the racing commission or anybody is to make a decision based upon the merits -- what’s in the best interests of horse racing, what’s in the best interests of the state and if they’d have done that three years ago we’d have a race track right now in Tucumcari.
What can local residents do if they want to help bring a race track to Tucumcari?
I think primarily ... as soon as we identify from the racing commission what their schedule is going to be, I’m sure people remember last time we had a letter writing campaign, we signed postcards, we did different things and I think we’re probably going to be doing something similar to that, but at this point they shouldn’t be doing anything, but here in about six weeks we’ll come out specifically with requests and suggestions for them to help us get it.
Is the team who is proposing to bring horse racing and gaming to Tucumcari the same group that applied in 2008?
Who is the team made up of?
The lead investor and the majority owner is going to be Don Chalmers. He’s a long time car dealer here in New mexico, he’s a member of the (University of New Mexico) Board of Regents, he has an excellent reputation in the state for being a great businessman and a worker for communities and philanthropic causes. We’ve got David Vance, who has spent years in the horse racing business. He actually built Remington Park from the ground up and ran it for several years and now his son is involved in running Remington Park. He’s our horseman. The gaming group is called the Navegante Group. They’re out of Las Vegas. Those guys set up and manage casinos. They’ve got casinos in Las Vegas, other parts of Nevada and Canada under their management at this point. It’s basically a three-legged deal. It’s Don Chalmers with his ability to finance it and his business ability, it’s Vance with his horse racing experience and then Navegante with their gaming experience.
Have you heard anything about other interested parties preparing to apply for this license?
We haven’t heard of anybody and I think basically the purpose last week at the racing commission was to let everybody know that you’ve got 45 days to get your act together and then there’s going to be a process start. We can only hope that we are the only ones to apply but I don’t anticipate that.
Is there anything else the Quay County readers should know about this developing situation?
We’ll keep them posted and I can assure you that once we’re ready for them to do letter writing and everything, we’ll let them know.