Florida Senate Agriculture Committee Acknowledges Florida as “Horse Capitol of the World”; Florida Legislators Are Urged To Support Proven Job Power, Economic Benefits of Legitimate Florida Quarter Horse Racing

Florida Senator Alan Hays is a longtime horseman

Senator Alan Hays, himself an experienced horseman, said: “We need to realize ancillary businesses that go with (the Florida horse) industry and the ripple effect of those dollars as they go through the state. This is a hidden gem and we need to do everything we can to magnify the effect.”

 

Legislators Are Urged  To  Support Proven Job Power, Economic Benefits of Legitimate Florida Quarter Horse Racing

Florida Senate Committee on Agriculture members were surprised to learn during a presentation today, January 30, 2012, that Florida’s horse industry is a $5.1 billion economic driver that creates 104,700 total statewide jobs per year.  In fact, for each horse, seven jobs are created, according to the American Horse Council.  To view the presentation (begins on Page 86) click here.

Florida Horse Park officials, who gave this morning’s presentation, described Marion County as the “Horse Capital of the World.”   They outlined the extraordinary buying power of the people who come to Florida from all over the world to watch, ride and care for horses of all kinds.  Purchase of hotel rooms and lodging, food, gasoline, clothing, feed, veterinary services, horseshoeing and more are some of the reasons for the dramatic economic benefit of Florida’s horse industry. 

Even the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association CEO Carol Dover was on hand to discuss the importance of the horse industry to her organization’s members.  She explained that the sheer strength of Florida’s Thoroughbred racing industry provides the very infrastructure to encourage and warrant hoteliers’ investment.

Committee Chairman Gary Siplin introduced the presentation by explaining that Florida’s horse industry is one of the strongest industries in the state and has national impact.

Senator Alan Hays, himself an experienced horseman, said:  “We need to realize ancillary businesses that go with (the Florida horse) industry and the ripple effect of those dollars as they go through the state.  This is a hidden gem and we need to do everything we can to magnify the effect.”

If horses really do create jobs, the Legislature should note the success of legitimate Quarter Horse racing at Hialeah Park, which is out-earning “pari-mutuel barrel racing” by 99.1%.   

As evidence, nearly 1,000 accredited Quarter Horses are stabled at Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association-sanctioned Hialeah Park.  But Gretna’s entire “barrel racing” meet only requires 36 horses total—thus killing the positive impact that would otherwise be generated if Gretna Racing were to have used its permit for legitimate Quarter Horse racing instead of “barrel racing.” 

Gretna’s spurious use of its Quarter Horse permit to operate “pari-mutuel barrel racing” has deliberately cut the number of horses needed at its facility by over 96 percent.

Unfortunately, because no clear definition of “horse racing” yet exists, gambling regulators are free to consider what will further degrade the value of Florida’s otherwise-successful Quarter Horse racing and breeding industry by entertaining plans for six (6)  Quarter Horse licenses likely designed to cut live racing through spurious schemes like “barrel racing” that dramatically reduce the number of horses needed to create the very jobs and economic development acknowledged by our Senators today. 

It’s a fact:  Gretna and its copycat schemes are slaughtering, not growing Florida horse jobs and economic impact that would otherwise come with Florida’s legitimate racing and breeding industries. 

“Florida’s horse industry is not ‘dead’” explained Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Kent Stirling. “We are confident our legislators understand what we bring to the table and will work to protect it. This means ensuring that clever lawyering and loopholes are not allowed to trump job creation and economic development.”

Does Florida really want the economic and job creating benefits of legitimate live horse racing to be replaced by slots, cardrooms, poker, “pari-mutuel barrel racing” . . . .  or worse?

Legislators, we urge your awareness of this morning’s Senate Committee on Agriculture horse industry presentation and ask you to vote against any related pari-mutuel legislation that would serve to kill jobs and economic development of Florida’s horse racing and breeding industry.

For more information, contact:

  • Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association:   Kent Stirling, Executive Director (305) 628-2989 or khs0813@bellsouth.net
  • Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association and Florida Quarter Horse Breeders’ and Owners’ Association:  Dr. Steve Fisch, DVM (850) 510-9650 or sfischDVM@avsequinehospital.com

 

The United Florida Horsemen are:

National and Florida Barrel Horse Association (24,000 members)

American Quarter Horse Association (350,000 national members; 7,163 Florida members)

Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (439 members)

U.S. Trotting Association (25,000 members)

Florida Standardbred Owners and Breeders Association (630 members)

Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (1,300 members)

National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (35,000 members)

Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (5,000 members)

 

www.UnitedFloridaHorsemen.org

 

Pari-Mutuel Barrel Racing’s “North Florida Horsemen’s Association” Controlled by Gretna Racing, LLC Owners: Only in Florida Are Pari-Mutue​​ls Allowed to Own and Control Their Own Horsemen’s Unions

Pari-Mutuel Barrel Racing’s “North Florida Horsemen’s Association” Controlled by Gretna Racing, LLC Owners  

State of Florida Cheated Out of Literally 99.1 Percent Of Revenue It Could Be Earning Through Legitimate Quarter Horse Racing

Together with former third-generation Gulfstream Park attorney David Romanik, Gulfstream Park lobbyist Marc Dunbar is the part-owner of Gretna Racing, LLC, which is causing a deliberate horse racing industry decimation and dramatic loss of State revenue by having unilaterally introduced “pari-mutuel barrel racing” in North Florida.  This outright mockery of Florida law is enabled by these individuals’ own non-profit corporation known as the “North Florida Horsemen’s Association.”

Because the “North Florida Horsemen’s Association” is controlled by Dunbar and Romanik, revenues from Gretna’s cardrooms and, ultimately, slot machines, can easily be funneled back to their self-owned Gretna Racing, LLC, not to the “North Florida Horsemen’s Association” members who have unwittingly signed away their State and Federal purse negotiating rights.  These unsuspecting horsemen and women don’t realize that their rights to Gretna Racing’s revenues would otherwise be ensured under both Florida law and the Federal Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978, the intent of which was never to have tracks own their own horsemen’s unions, since without ensuring lucrative purses to attract competitors, horse racing of any kind ceases to be a proper economic driver and job creator for any state.

If legitimate Quarter Horse racing sanctioned by the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (“FQHRA”) was taking place at Gretna Racing instead, these horsemen’s interests would otherwise be protected.  What’s worse, the irony is that legitimate Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association sanctioned Quarter Horse racing at Hialeah Park is out-earning Gretna “pari-mutuel barrel racing” by 99.1 percent, as reported to the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.  Gretna Racing only pays $19.64 per day in pari-mutuel taxes.

With only 36 horses needed to complete Gretna’s entire “pari-mutuel barrel racing” meet, versus nearly 1,000 that are stabled right now at Hialeah Park, the FQHRA’s success, in turn, spurs economic development and job creation in both the racing and breeding industries, since that revenue is properly shared with horsemen according to State and Federal law,  thanks to the FQHRA.  As further evidence, Hialeah’s legitimate Quarter Horse meet has 803 licensed pari-mutuel employees registered at its facility, whereas Gretna Racing has only 38 comparable licensees.  Documented attendance at Hialeah Park averages 4,100 per day.  The Associated Press and other major media reported Gretna Racing to attract only 20-50 people per day.

But the fact is, Dunbar and Romanik are actually now profiting at Gretna Racing from the very same business plan that they, themselves, are suing the law-abiding horsemen’s associations for.  During 2011, Dunbar and Romanik launched a spurious lawsuit against the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association and the Florida Quarter Horse Breeders’ and Owners’ Association, in which they claim damage from what the Florida Legislature ordained these statutory organizations to do:  Protect horsemen’s rights.

Nearly 450,000 members of United Florida Horsemen feel that the Florida Legislature should not support or negotiate with any person or entity that is currently engaged in a lawsuit designed to destroy horsemen’s livelihoods through self-dealing by means of dummy, self-owned horsemen’s associations designed exclusively to funnel pari-mutuel, card room and slot machine profits back to the track owners, rather than to properly disburse it to horsemen according to law.

To view State of Florida documentation on the ownership of “North Florida Horsemen’s Association,” click here.

The above information is based on reported Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering data.

Florida Non Profit Corporation:  NORTH FLORIDA HORSEMEN’S ASSOCIATION, INC.
Filing Information

Document Number:  N09000005229
FEI/EIN Number:  APPLIED
Date Filed:  05/29/2009
State:  FL
Status:  ACTIVE
Principal Address 215 SOUTH MONROE STREET, 2ND FLOOR TALLAHASSEE FL 32301-1839
Mailing Address P.O. BOX 10095 TALLAHASSEE FL 32302-2095

Registered Agent Name & Address:  DUNBAR, MARC W 215 SOUTH MONROE STREET, 2ND FLOOR TALLAHASSEE FL 32301-1839
US Officer/Director Detail Name & Address Title D:  ROMANIK, DAVID S 215 SOUTH MONROE STREET, 2ND FLOOR TALLAHASSEE FL 32301-1839
04/11/2011 — ANNUAL REPORT
04/09/2010 — ANNUAL REPORT

05/29/2009 — Domestic Non-Profit

The United Florida Horsemen are:
·         National and Florida Barrel Horse Association (24,000 members)
·         American Quarter Horse Association (350,000 national members; 7,163 Florida members)
·         Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (439 members)
·         U.S. Trotting Association (25,000 members)
·         Florida Standardbred Owners and Breeders Association (630 members)
·         Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (1,300 members)
·         National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (35,000 members)
·         Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (5,000 members)

http://www.UnitedFloridaHorsemen.org
http://www.FloridaHorsemen.com

Florida Governor Scott Tells Palm Beach Post’s Dara Kam That Lawmakers Should Shut Down Gretna Barrel Racing, Slots

In an interview with the Palm Beach Post’s Dara Kam today, December 21, 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott said “Lawmakers need to put an end to the uncertainty over the barrel racing and possible spread of it to other facilities.” 

The article is reprinted below.

Scott: Lawmakers need to shut down barrel racing, slots

by Dara Kam | December 21st, 2011

Palm Beach Post “Post on Politics” Blog

www.pbpost.com

Gov. Rick Scott is calling on lawmakers to quickly close what he called a gray area in Florida law that allowed a Panhandle racetrack to get a permit for barrel racing and a card room and opened the door for slot machines.

Scott also for the first time said he doesn’t believe lawmakers meant to include as a legitimate gambling activity when they passed laws regulating pari-mutuels.

“It doesn’t appear to me that it was the intent of the law. They need to clear it up,” Scott told The Palm Beach Post this afternoon.

Scott’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation issued the quarter horse permit to Gretna Racing – owned by the Alabama-based Poarch Creek Indians and gambling lawyers David Romanik and Marc Dunbar – last month. Regulators believed there was nothing in Florida law allowed them to deny the permit, now being challenged in court.

Lawmakers need to put an end to the uncertainty over the barrel racing and possible spread of it to other facilities – a track in Hamilton County has applied for a barrel racing permit – Scott said.

“It’s not fair to people who invest their dollars. It’s not fair to people who are supposed to enforce the law if the law’s not clear. So the legislature ought to clear it up whether that’s allowed or not,” He said.

Scott said he wants the legislature to act quickly before voters in Gadsden County, where the Gretna track is located, go to the polls on Jan. 31 to vote on a referendum allowing slot machines at the casino.

Voter approval of the referendum could threaten the state’s agreement with the Seminole Indians and cost Florida the $225 million the tribe gives annually. That agreement requires that slot machines be limited to pari-mutuels in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Slots at tracks elsewhere in the state could blow up next year’s budget which relies on the Seminole cash, Scott said.

“By not doing something, they’re making a decision that will put the Seminole compact at risk. I think they ought to clear it up ahead of time,” Scott said.

http://www.postonpolitics.com/2011/12/scott-lawmakers-need-to-shut-down-barrel-racing-slots/comment-page-1/#comment-305140

Dara KamDara Kam has covered the Capitol for more than a decade, first for the Associated Press and Gannett then for The Palm Beach Post for about five years. She never met a pair of fishnets she didn’t like and is still waiting for them to dim the lights in committee rooms so she can remove her shades.  Reach her at 850-570-1592 or dara_kam@pbpost.com.

The United Florida Horsemen are:

·         National and Florida Barrel Horse Association (24,000 members)

·         American Quarter Horse Association (350,000 national members; 7,163 Florida members)

·         Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (439 members)

·         U.S. Trotting Association (25,000 members)

·         Florida Standardbred Owners and Breeders Association (630 members)

·         Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (1,300 members)

·         National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (35,000 members)

·         Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (5,000 members)

www.UnitedFloridaHorsemen.org

Response by United Florida Horsemen to December 13, 2011 First District Court of Appeal Order Denying the Emergency Motion to Stay “Pari-Mutuel Barrel Racing” at Gretna Racing, LLC:

 December 13, 2011–“While we are disappointed with the Court’s decision to allow this Trojan Horse masquerade to continue for the time being, we are very grateful to the Court for considering our request and for granting us the unusual opportunity for an appellate hearing under these unfortunate and unprecedented circumstances.

It is important to note that the Court’s decision does not vindicate or validate in any way what the State and the permitholder are doing in Gretna. The Court is merely reserving judgment on the matter while we prove our case to put a stop to this illegal activity, and we fully intend to do that.

We look forward to having our day in court, and we remain confident that we will prevail on the merits in the end.

However, in the middle of widespread economic decline and job loss, it defies all reason that the State of Florida would expend taxpayer dollars in fierce litigation to defend the unilateral expansion of gambling through “pari-mutuel barrel racing”—a nefarious scheme designed to drastically cut jobs, people, horses and economic impact by replacing it all with slot machines. 

As far as we are concerned, there is no debate on the illegitimacy of this outright perpetration, since the numbers already speak for themselves:  Lost revenue to the State through dramatic handle and purse decreases, uninformed barrel competitors being cheated out of normal opportunity and fair winnings commensurate with the industry, and the fallacy of Gretna’s local elected officials pointing to empty bleachers and calling it all a ‘great success.’  

Florida law says pari-mutuel permitholders have an obligation to ensure revenue to the State.  Gretna Racing has clearly failed in its Department of Business and Professional Regulation-sponsored experiment, yet is ironically being artificially sustained by lack of regulatory oversight, despite strong opposition to expanded gambling from the Florida Legislature and Cabinet.”

The United Florida Horsemen are:

·         National and Florida Barrel Horse Association (24,000 members)

·         American Quarter Horse Association (350,000 national members; 7,163 Florida members)

·         Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (439 members)

·         U.S. Trotting Association (25,000 members)

·         Florida Standardbred Owners and Breeders Association (630 members)

·         Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (1,300 members)

·         National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (35,000 members)

·         Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (5,000 members)

 

For more information, contact:

·         Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association:   Kent Stirling, Executive Director (305) 628-2989 or khs0813@bellsouth.net

·         Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association and Florida Quarter Horse Breeders’ and Owners’ Association:  Dr. Steve Fisch, DVM (850) 510-9650 or sfischDVM@avsequinehospital.com

·         Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners Association:  Dr. Phil Matthews, President at phil@matthewsoffice.net

 

www.UnitedFloridaHorsemen.org