FHBPA President Bill White, Vice President Chester Bishop and I visited Hialeah Park last week to witness the “quarter horse racing” that is being run there.
The facility itself appears to be in fine shape, although walking through the grandstand is like visiting a closed museum. A very nice slots facility and simulcast center, although not well attended on that Thursday afternoon, are housed inside the north end of the grandstand.
Then there is the so-called racing. Twenty doubleheaders of eight, two-horse “races” are being put on in front of a handful of people in the grandstand, with nearly zero handle. This charade is being done by Hialeah ostensibly in an attempt to meet the statutory requirements to maintain its gaming permit.
Hialeah management has thrown history and any sense of pride out the window and is shamelessly following the Gretna/Oxford/Hamilton Downs model. They have ‘contracted’ with a bogus horsemen’s group and are presenting bogus racing in an apparent effort to circumvent the spirit, if not the letter of the law, knowing that the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering is likely to do nothing about it.
There is no state racing commission in Florida whose purpose would include taking action in the best interest of racing. Instead, we have a state agency that, as it did when Calder bulldozed its grandstand, turns a blind eye to these self-decoupling activities.
The FHBPA has not, and cannot sit idly by as this horse racing industry-crushing activity continues.
Glen Berman, FHBPA Executive Director