Dead, discarded racehorse near NM racecourse. Photo: Jakob Schiller NYT.

Illegal horse racing runs wild in New Mexico

Dead, discarded racehorse near NM racecourse.  Photo: Jakob Schiller NYT.
Dead, discarded racehorse near NM racecourse. Photo: Jakob Schiller NYT.

Horse racing has serious, serious problems in New Mexico, particularly when it comes to racehorse doping, injuries, breakdowns and death. And this is in horse races at tracks licensed and regulated by the State of New Mexico.

What about the racehorses who take part in clandestine racing at bush tracks across the State?

LARRY BARKER filed an exclusive investigative report exposing illegal horse racing full of illicit drugs, gambling, violence and of course the most tragic part of the whole shameless scenario, horse cruelty.

Barker reports the following from his four-month investigation:

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – (Nov. 2, 2012) Nearly every weekend, hundreds gather in the New Mexico outback for illegal horse racing that often includes big money, violence and animal cruelty.

And while law enforcement –- who suspect Mexican drug cartels might play a role in the clandestine tracks –- have tried to shut down the operations, they are often unsuccessful, according to a four-month investigation by News 13’s Larry Barker.

“Clearly drug organizations in New Mexico and Texas and other places are involved with these race tracks,” said Keith Brown, the DEA’s special agent in charge in Albuquerque. “Just as clearly, they are involved with the Sinaloa Cartel.”

On a typical Sunday afternoon, spectators travel hundreds of miles – often from across the Mexican border – to participate in the illegal horse racing. In fact, it’s not unusual to find more people in the crowd at unlicensed horse racing tracks than at The Downs of Albuquerque, a legal, regulated track at the State Fairgrounds.

Later Barker reports the following. It’s sick. But how different is this from so-called regulated horse racing? Couldn’t the statements below be describing any racecourse anywhere across the country on any given day?

Because activity at clandestine tracks is unregulated, horses are often drugged.

“I’ve seen them drug them,” said the New Mexico horseman who spoke anonymously with News 13. “They do poke them with the needle and then they get pretty crazy. They do hide it a little bit, but everybody knows it’s fair game to them that they drug their horses . . .”

Barker reports one loathsome detail about clandestine horse racing in New Mexico it does not have in common with its licensed counterpart: It takes place year round.

In the video portion of this story, Executive Director of the New Mexico State Racing Commission Vince Mares says they must protect the horses, but most of all the jockeys and also the betting public. Of course, Mares is speaking about State-regulated tracks. With respect Mr. Mares, we see what happens to racehorses at your licensed tracks. Doped. Injured. Killed. Discarded.

And who is looking after the horses racing at the bush tracks? No one, states Mares.

Mares also points out in his interview in the video report that horses who take part in clandestine racing in the outbacks of New Mexico sometimes race at State-regulated tracks and breakdown and die. Why is this allowed?


The Governor of New Mexico Susana Martinez is very sensitive to horse welfare issues and the serious problems that surround horse racing in her State.

If you wish to contact Governor Martinez with a respectful message asking her to influence New Mexico State lawmakers to close the loopholes that allows individuals to operate illegal horse racing leaving officials no avenue for prosecution, you may use her website’s email webform or write to her at:

Office of the Governor
490 Old Santa Fe Trail
Room 400
Santa Fe, NM 87501

Thank you.


— “Illegal horse racing runs wild“; KRQE News Channel 13 Albuquerque; by Larry Barker; Nov. 2, 2012.


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3 thoughts on “Illegal horse racing runs wild in New Mexico”

  1. This is so sickening. I will definitely email her. I got a horse from Mexico, he was terrified when you put a rope around your neck and I suspected that they would lasso him. He was so traumatized it took years to rehab him.


  2. They do this in Calif all the time from the photos I have seen. Some of them pick up TB’s at sales and run them until they are to crippled up to keep going then they turn them loose in the desert to die. It’s the Mexicans that are doing this in all three states. Since New Mexico is loaded with illegal aliens like Calif and TX is I don’t know just how anyone can stop it. The DEA can’t stop it they can’t even stop the drug cartels which are now in every US city.


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