appeals court racino ruling opens the gate

More than five years after receiving a racing license for a planned $50 million racino in Raton, the ill-fated La Mesa Racetrack and Casino is out of the running.

And that decision by the New Mexico Court of Appeals means competition and feasible, honest intentions win, place and show.

Canadian developer Michael Moldenhauer got his racing license Jan. 22, 2008, but lost it when he was unable to complete a temporary casino, build the track or host live races by the Memorial Day 2010 deadline. It didn't help that at one point Marc Correra, of state investment scandal fame, was a partner.

Yet Moldenhauer continued to fight the state in court to keep his stabled dreams alive — as well as scratch those of viable applicants for the state's sixth and likely last racing license for the next quarter century.

Coronado Partners — a group of investors headed by Albuquerque businessman Don Chalmers — filed last year for that license to be used in Tucumcari. Previous applications include Pojoaque Pueblo's hopes to revive the Downs at Santa Fe as well as a proposal for Hidalgo Park in Lordsburg.

Appeals Judge Michael Bustamante said the court determined La Mesa's "issues are moot."

Five years moot, to be exact. This ruling, which parallels the Gaming Control Board's decision, finally clears the track for real competition.

— Albuquerque Journal

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