Serving Florida's Thoroughbred Horse Racing Owners, Trainers and Horsemen

President’s Message

Post-Irma Backside Visits

 

Members,

I just recently concluded my visits to the backstretches of Gulfstream, Palm Meadows Training Center and Gulfstream Park West.

Considering the strength of the hurricane, I was surprised and pleased that the three facilities suffered only minor damage along with short term power outages. The horses that shipped out from Gulfstream have for the most part returned and racing and training has resumed at all three facilities.

Palm Meadows seemed to fare the best in that there were only a few trees toppled with short term power issues. Gulfstream had some damage to the roofs but nothing major. The new barns called the “tents” handled the storm very well and look unscathed. GPW came out of the storm functionally fine but visually it looks beat up. Years of neglect by Churchill with the addition of the storm adds to its tawdry appearance.

The lack of power was the main hardship for horses, horsemen and personnel. Limited lighting/electricity made training difficult until later in the morning. The lack of power created misery for the help that live on the grounds and have no air conditioning, TV or way to cook food. Internet and phone service was disrupted for a few days.

The FHBPA chaplaincy has done a super job of supplying food and water to the backside workers. Numerous pallets of food have been delivered with supplies of ready to eat meals. Chaplain Tom and his staff deserve kudos.

Along with helping with the food needs to the backside workers, the FHBPA has agreed to split the costs with Gulfstream of vanning to and from Palm Meadows which will be paid from the backstretch fund. Those that shipped to places other than Palm Meadows will be responsible to pay their own cost for vanning. Anyone that has a vanning bill for shipping to and from Palm Meadows as a result of the storm is asked to submit invoices to Gulfstream.

The horsemen should feel good about how they both individually and in concert responded to this storm to protect the horses while safeguarding themselves personally. Track management also needs to be given credit for a timely and well-orchestrated response. PJ Campo, Billy Badgett and Cliff Hopmans worked tirelessly guiding and directing the ship. It was an exhausting and mammoth undertaking.

Considering what could have happened with a direct hit by the storm, I think everyone is relieved and has put their best foot forward.

As always, please reach out to the FHBPA if we can assist in any way.

Regards,

Bill

Message from the President

Horsemen,

I am hopeful that the information below clarifies the FHBPA’s positions as to Florida-bred races in comparison to the Florida Sire Stakes.

Some points of interest:

  • Historically and until the last few years, Calder managed the Florida Stallion Stakes. When moved to Gulfstream it was renamed the Florida Sire Stakes. At Calder, the FSS was mainly funded through stallion, foal, yearling and two-year-old nomination fees. For twenty years or more, Kathy Standridge managed the program and collected and tracked nomination fees while working as the Calder President’s Executive Secretary. Purse money was NOT a key component to fund the FSS.
  • Our purse contribution and Gulfstream’s contribution was initiated 2 to 3 years ago. This was done as an incentive to move the series to Gulfstream and to regenerate the program.
  • The program was taken over by the FTBOA when Calder/Churchill showed disinterest and let it decline as part of Churchill’s plan to get out of racing.
  • The FTBOA currently has the funds and wherewithal to fully finance the FSS program on its own. It is estimated that the nomination fees are between $300,000 and $500,000 which the FTBOA now collects and keeps. From Florida Statute and agreement through purse contract, Gulfstream sends the FTBOA at least $6,000,000 yearly from the horsemen’s purse account.
  • The FSS is NOT an Open Florida Bred race or series. They are highly restricted races that ONLY the Florida Bred horses that qualify and are nominated can participate. In round numbers, according to court documents, approximately only 600 of the 2,000 Florida foals are eligible to run. Thus, two-thirds of the registered Florida-breds are ineligible to participate. A small segment of the Florida Breeders and Florida-bred racing participants benefit from this program with most written out. If the Stallion is not nominated with fees paid, the foal is disqualified from participation even though it is a Florida-bred.
  • A great majority of the money that the FTBOA returns to our purses at Gulfstream is tied into and restricted to the FSS and nominees. Very little of the funds they send back to purses is used for non-FSS eligible Florida-breds running in South Florida.
  • Since taking over the FSS, the FTBOA now uses a very small portion of its money for open Florida-bred races.

Recently, a high-ranking FTBOA Director stated openly in front of several FHBPA Directors that the FTBOA has no interest in our FHBPA/Gulfstream Summer Stakes Series that supports Open Florida Bred races.

The FHBPA position is clear. We support Open Florida Bred races. This is evident in the Summer Series that was created this year and earmarked over a million dollars to Open Florida Bred and enhanced stakes races. The FHBPA also used $300,000 from purses to support and fund Open Florida Bred races in the 2017 Sunshine Millions which the FTBOA did not support.

In closing, the FSS series is the FTBOA’s program and theirs to manage and fund.

The FHBPA embraces the use of purse money that is inclusive and allows all Florida-breds to participate. Using purse money that benefits a narrow group while writing out the majority that actually generated the purse money, is not proper stewardship of our purses.

As always, please contact us with comments, suggestions or questions. The FHBPA has an open door policy – no appointment is needed and all horsemen are welcome.

All the best,

Bill White

A Message from Bill White

Dear Members:

The Florida HBPA is proud to introduce you to our new email newsletter and communication service.

As you are aware, the FHPBA provides both business and social benefits to our members. That reality drives our decisions as we work to develop fresh approaches, ideas, and solutions, manage our operations, drive innovation, engage with our owners, trainers, and members, and care for our employees and communities.

Our new service will:

  • Be the most direct way to quickly provide vital information to our members
  • Offer you a sign up platform via the web and social media
  • Easily maintain and update your contact information
  • Notify you of FHBPA sponsored events with one-click RSVP ability
  • Circulate opinion surveys to get your input on key issues
  • Provide a way for members to donate to charitable causes from an email
  • Alert members of all of the great family events put together by Chaplain Tom

We are proud of the positive effects of our collaborative efforts with Gulfstream Park and our fellow horsemen throughout Florida. We are even more excited about the possibilities ahead, as South Florida further separates from the pack into the industry leader for live thoroughbred racing.

These achievements would not be possible without the dedication of you, the horsemen, who deliver an outstanding show to our fans while supporting the communities we serve.

We look forward to your input and participation, as we work to keep you apprised of our progress in helping strengthen the South Florida thoroughbred industry.

Sincerely,

William P. White
President
Florida HBPA

P.S. If are not already on our email list and would like to be included, I encourage you to join us by clicking here.

FHBPA OFFERS SUPPORT TO FLORIDA BREDS

Horsemen,

This past week, Executive Director Glen Berman and I participated in a teleconference call with the leadership of the FTBOA.

The focus of this call was to finalize this year’s Sire Stakes and FTBOA Florida-bred funding of South Florida racing.
The following was the FHBPA’s strategy.

1) FHBPA PURPOSE:
To maximize the FTBOA’s financial contribution to support Florida-bred races/purses.
The FTBOA by law must return between 17% and 40% of the money sent to them by Gulfstream Park.
The amount of money sent to the FTBOA from Gulfstream Park is roughly $6,000,000.

2) FHBA POSITION:
The FTBOA has over 2.2 million dollars that could be put back into Gulfstream Florida-bred purses this year.
This figure represents the near maximum allowed by law (40% of $6,000,000).

3) FHBPA ANALYSIS:
The Sire Stakes is limited to and benefits a small pool of nominated horses/breeders.
The FTBOA has the financial ability to fund this series on their own without an additional FHBPA purse supplement.

4) FHBPA GOAL:
To encourage the FTBOA to fund Florida-bred races to the maximum of their statutory requirement (40% of the $6,000,000 received from Gulfstream/FHBPA).
In addition to and separate from the FTBOA races, to use the horsemen’s purse money ($1,000,000) and create a 10 race Florida-bred/preferred program that supports and gives additional strength to the Florida-bred program.
This concept would allow and would keep the Stallion Series fundamentally intact.
This plan allows both the two and three-year-old Sire Stakes races to remain solidly in place.

This new proposal would then expand the Florida-bred program beyond where it is with a series of 10 additional races.
The FHBPA believes this is a wise use of horsemen purse money while creating more opportunities and windows of participation for all Florida-breds.

An example of how the Sire Stakes could be funded with the FTBOA’s maximum contribution of $2,200,000 (nearly 40% of $6,000,000 received).
Two-year-old races:
$150,000 for the first leg. $250,000 for the second leg and $400,000 for the third leg of the Sire Stakes.
There would be a race for fillies and colts totaling $1,600,000.
Three-year-old races:
$100,000 for 6 races total with 3 for colts and 3 for fillies equaling $600,000.
The total amount of funding from the FTBOA would equal the $2,200,000 that the organization previously stated that they could contribute and nearly brings them to maximum contribution.

The FHBPA and Gulfstream Park would then create 10 ADDITIONAL Florida-bred/preferred races at $100,000 apiece ($1,000,000) to support the Florida-bred program.

The Results of the meeting:

The FTBOA does not agree.
The FTBOA insists that if the FHBPA/Gulfstream do not put additional purse money directly into FTBOA races they will cut their purse funding to the statutory minimum and reduce their own racing programs. In response, the FTBOA plans to eliminate the three year old races of the Sire Stakes and reduce funding across the board of their entire racing program.

The FHBPA is aware that many of our members are Florida-based owners, breeders, and trainers.
We have made a commitment to use $1,000,000 of purse money to create a new Florida-bred/preferred series of stake races.
The FHBPA has signed a contractual agreement with Gulfstream and will go forward with the creation of this new and supportive Florida-bred/preferred series.

Regards

Bill White
FHBPA  President

Purses

Horsemen,

Another year is soon to pass and with it is the anticipation of a new year and with it many challenges – both old and new. There are a multitude of issues facing owners and trainers both in the present and those looming on the horizon. The first issue is PURSES.

As president of the FHBPA,  I am often asked, “what’s up with the purses in South Florida”? Owners and trainers hear about record handle but the purses do not reflect the positive news reports. Handle is booming to record levels but purses are flat. Why is this?

The short answer is that wagering through the windows at the track on live races is now not the main source of track revenue. Money  wagered on live races at the  track is a small number compared to what is now bet through off track, simulcast/ADW sites. Beyond anyone’s imagination, within the last twenty years, off track wagering has become by far the biggest and main wagering revenue source. Nationwide, there are billions of dollars being bet through home computers and smart phones. A wager through the window on a live on site race,  creates the highest percentage takeout that goes to purses.

The percentage that goes to purses taken from wagers made through computers and smart phone betting is much less. The challenge for the horsemen with this historic shift of wagering, is to make sure that we are receiving our fair share for purses,  revenue from off track/on line wagering sites.

Another challenge facing the horsemen is the threat of decoupling. Decoupling is the removal of the connection of the casino to the funding of purses and running races. Most pari-mutuel facilities in Florida, after only ten years of the being granted slot casinos, are trying to decouple (get out of the racing game) and become stand alone casinos. This should be fought at all costs.Decoupling removes millions of dollars from horse owners purses and goes into Casinos pockets. Decoupling also stops the requirement to run live races. As long as a track is coupled to a casino, there is a statutory guarantee of live racing.

WITH DECOUPLING  – LIVE RACING IS REDUCED OR ELIMINATED.

Decoupling stops slot money for the funding of purses. Decoupling eliminates live racing. Any form of decoupling,  for any South Florida pari-mutual facility,  will eventually lead to total decoupling for ALL pari-mutuels in Florida.

Partial decoupling (dogs, Hialeah, Calder etc,)  is a virtual guarantee of the eventual total decoupling of all thoroughbred tracks in Florida. The FHBPA looks forward with great anticipation to the future. We must stay involved. We must be included and become an intrigal part of the process of finding solutions that impact us.

The FHBPA is  here to continue to protect what we have that is currently in place as we find ways to expand, improve and look for avenues to expand our industry.

Please contact the FHBPA offices anytime when we can be of assistance. If in town please stop by and have a coffee. We encourage and appreciate your input and involvement. We are here to help and assist the horsemen.

All the Best,

Bill White