Florida’s Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Associations Urge Warring South Florida Tracks to Settle Their Differences—And Soon

With South Florida’s two Thoroughbred tracks engaging in an escalating regulatory battle over racing dates, the professionals who do the “heavy lifting” to provide the actual horse racing product—the horse owners, trainers and breeders—find themselves as unexpected bystanders in an unwanted dispute.  Thus, the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA), made up of Thoroughbred owners and trainers, and the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association  (FTBOA) can only urge Gulfstream Park and Calder Casino and Racing—each facility remotely controlled by giant corporations—to settle their differences—and quickly.

“I’m all about the free market, but there are certain types of products that require a greater degree of regulation.  Horse racing is one of them,” said FHBPA Executive Director Kent Stirling.  “Done right, horse racing and breeding affords Florida with enormous economic impact because of all the jobs and businesses it creates.   But unfortunately, the current dates conflict is rooted in a statutory glitch that is being exploited by clever lawyering at the expense of what could be most beneficial for all of us, not to mention Florida taxpayers.”

Overlapping dates can drain the local horse population and fragment wagering dollars—making it difficult for the entire industry to prosper.

“This serious distraction of racing dates overlap, combined with other current issues like ‘pari-mutuel barrel racing’ and related spurious lawsuits over the constitutionality of independent horsemen’s associations have the real potential of scaring away investors in Florida’s horse racing industry,” Stirling said.  “Most of our members are small business owners and need to feel confident that their investment in Florida is protected and fostered.”

Lonny Powell, a former horse racing regulator and track operator, who now serves as CEO of the FTBOA agreed.  “It’s imperative that our members—Thoroughbred breeders, horse and farm owners throughout the state—see a flourishing, stable and growing racing industry in South Florida.  We certainly want both of these tracks and all horsemen racing in Florida to prosper.   It’s more than troublesome that this dates overlap crisis distracts from all of our collective efforts to grow Florida’s $2.2 billion-a-year Thoroughbred racing and breeding industry, which among the national few that show an increase in foal numbers, while our tracks continue to offer races that consistently feature some of the best competition on the national stage.  To place any of this at risk for a self-inflicted dates overlap collision course causes us much concern and frustration.  History has clearly shown there is no industry upside that comes from an uncooperative and intensely competitive dates battle like we’re facing here in South Florida”

Phil Matthews, a prominent veterinarian and FTBOA president, agreed.  “Much to all of our frustration, it appears that both we and the FHBPA have little ability to affect the situation.  That’s why it’s important for our policymakers to understand our members have a major investment in putting horses—our core product—out on the track, so Florida’s Thoroughbred industry can thrive.  It is imperative that we do everything we can to encourage these giant corporations to make the right decisions, not just for both their respective facilities, but for the industry and marketplace as well.  In fact, our future depends on it.”

Both organizations agree it’s long overdue for Gulfstream and Calder to finally settle their key competitive differences and successfully move forward. 

“The addition of slot revenues to purses has kept Florida competitive and held our place in the prestigious international world of Thoroughbred racing,” FHBPA President Phil Combest added.  “It was Florida’s horse racing industry that provided the platform and the partnership for the corporations that control these facilities to bring slots to Florida to begin with.  Because the horsemen stand to lose the most in this crisis, we’d like to see this conflict settled very soon.”

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About Florida Horse Racing

Behind the scenes of Florida Thoroughbred racing and Florida Quarter Horse Racing is a vibrant, often unseen world known as the “backstretch.” It’s created by hundreds of independent businesses—both large and small. Through the labor-intensive, long-term and high-dollar financial investment required to get a young Thoroughbred or American Quarter Horse ready for competition, horse owners and trainers create thousands of jobs that drive over $1 billion a year through Florida’s economy—from breeding and buying, to training and campaigning. The Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association represent the interests of nearly 10,000 Thoroughbred and American Quarter Horse owners and trainers who do business in Florida. Some FHBPA members are based in Florida, others have vast operations throughout the globe. But during a race meet, Florida is home to all of us. The FHBPA and FQHRA work to foster and promote their relationships with tracks, community and government, while creating a better economic climate in which our horsemen can do business.
This entry was posted in Calder Race Course, Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, Florida Gambling, Florida Thoroughbred Racing, Gulfstream Park, Ocala Breeders Sales and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Florida’s Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Associations Urge Warring South Florida Tracks to Settle Their Differences—And Soon

  1. Reblogged this on unitedfloridahorsemen and commented:
    Unfortunately, the current racing dates conflict between Gulfstream and Calder is rooted in a statutory glitch that is being exploited by clever lawyering at the expense of Florida horse racing’s economic impact. FHBPA Executive Director Kent Stirling said today “I’m all about the free market, but there are certain types of products that require a greater degree of regulation. Horse racing is one of them. Done right, horse racing and breeding affords Florida with enormous economic impact because of all the jobs and businesses it creates. This serious distraction of racing dates overlap, combined with other current issues like ‘pari-mutuel barrel racing’ and related spurious lawsuits over the constitutionality of independent horsemen’s associations have the real potential of scaring away investors in Florida’s horse racing industry. Most of our members are small business owners and need to feel confident that their investment in Florida is protected and fostered.” Read more below . . .

  2. I think all of this lies at the feet of CDI and Calder. It’s no secret the way Calder has been presenting their races that the CASINO at Calder is doing everything they can to destroy racing in south in Florida hoping to convince political hacks with zero knowledge of the industry from decoupling the racing end and just running the casino. Just look at the two weeks of racing Calder has presented. Nearly every race goes off EXACTLY the same time as Keenland, Aqueduct or Pimlico. Now that Belmont is opening Friday with a 1:00 pm post will Calder change their post time to run head to head with Belmont?
    Their handle is horrible and the scumbags running Calder couldn’t be happier in my opinion.

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