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

President’s Message

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

 

 

Hurricane Matthew Update

As a result of Hurricane Matthew, there will be no racing at Gulfstream Park West tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, October 5 through 7. With the approaching storm, horsemen who are stabled in the lower level barns at Gulfstream may temporarily move their horses to available higher level barn stalls or may temporarily move their horses to Palm Meadows. For more information about moving horses please contact Billy Badgett at 516-641-2635. For moving to stalls at Palm Meadows please contact John Hoffman at 847-921-0567. For any other questions or updates, please contact the FHBPA office at 954-457-3516.

FHBPA Reaching Out

Horsemen,

During the past year, the FHBPA has reached out to our members outside of the South Florida area. I have been asked to come and address current issues with horsemen in the Ocala area on three separate occasions over the last several months. On each occasion, several of the FHBPA Board’s Directors have also volunteered to give their time and drive to Ocala to participate.

Each time I visited, I was amazed at the large number of horsemen that attended the meetings seeking information and asking questions. I have quickly come to realize that the FHBPA has a very large contingent of members outside of the Miami area that need to be embraced.

Although the Ocala area is known internationally as a breeding center, it is also a hotbed of horse ownership and training. Many of the breeding farms are also training centers with direct ties to South Florida racing. Income from boarding and training is a critical revenue stream to most Ocala farms.

Horsemen are usually not just an Owner, Trainer or Breeder. They are a combination of two and many times all three. Each of these facets are like the three legs of a stool. It is critical that all three work together – if one fails, they all fail.

The FHBPA stands ready to be the organization that listens. We invite and encourage all horsemen to contact us with suggestions, opinions and concerns. A phone call will not be ignored. You do not need an appointment to see us. Our Board Meetings are open and our elections are all inclusive.

We have a critical Legislative session coming again next spring and decoupling will be back on the menu. It is crucial that everyone understands the potential dangers that come with decoupling. There is a lot of misinformation that has been circulated about decoupling.

We also are continuing to focus on issues such as Worker’s Compensation, Medication and the demolition of Calder.

FHBPA has an election for Directorship coming up in a few months and we encourage potential candidates to run. I plan to visit Ocala again before the Legislative session to keep the Central Florida Horsemen in the loop.

We are here to help.

Regards,

Bill White – FHBPA President

 

Letter to Horsemen June 1, 2016

To all Horsemen,

I would just like to extend a thank you to everyone that attended the Decoupling Meeting that was presented on May 19th at the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion. Your attentiveness and participation throughout the meeting with thoughtful follow up questions was noted and appreciated.

I would also like to thank those that volunteered their time and energy in organizing and making this meeting highly successful. A special thanks goes to co-panelists Tom Cannell, Glen Berman and Herb Sheheane who drove great distances to volunteer their time.

I would like to summarize the meeting, especially for those that were unable to attend.

Decoupling currently is and has been a hotly contested subject and remains on the Legislative menu for this coming year. We expect the issue to quickly boil to the surface again this Spring during the next Legislative session. Decoupling, is generally the removal of a race tracks (permit holder) requirement to use casino money to FUND and to RUN lives races. Remaining coupled ( which is currently in place) means that the casinos stays connected to racing and helps fund purses and guarantee racing days.

The goal of the pro decoupling forces is the stoppage of the requirement to race and to create standalone casinos. The end result is the stoppage of BOTH live racing and the sharing of the profits with horses. All casino money with decoupling goes to the casino owners.

Here is what we currently risk with decoupling:

  • The FHBPA in South Florida has contracts in place that guarantee over 240 race days.
  • We have purses paid that are over 70 million dollars a year and are climbing.
  • We have negotiated contracts that guarantee a minimum average purse of $225,000 per day during the summer season and $400,000 per day during the winter.
  • We have a PERPETUAL slot agreement with Gulfstream Park at 12% and FIVE years remaining at Calder at 10%.
  • The two tracks generate around $13,500,000 from slots per year that are part of the total above stated purses.

Decoupling jeopardizes all of this.

It was debated this past legislative session that PARTIAL decoupling would work. Partial decoupling is to decouple the dogs, Hialeah, Calder, quarter horse  and harness horses and keep Gulfstream and Tampa coupled. Importantly, it  also decouples most of the inactive permits that have been the center of controversy and are being currently debated in front of the Florida Supreme Court.

The strategy to energize the  decoupling movement  is to  attack the low hanging fruit (dogs, quarter horses, standardbreds etc.) and to leave Gulfstream Park  and Tampa Bay Downs alone – FOR NOW. The track owners for the dogs, quarter horses and standardbreds are all on the forefront of pushing for decoupling and have a strong lobbying presence in Tallahassee. The casinos are putting up big money to make decoupling happen.

It is suggested that the answer is to create a “purse pool”  where those that are decoupled would be required to distribute money to Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs. An example of the “purse pool”  concept is if a dog track decouples it would have to give part of its profits to tracks that remain coupled and are running live races. On face value it is difficult to see how you could require one pari-mutuel facility to subsidize another competing facility down the street through its profits.

The “purse pool” concept is a loosely  not yet defined or understood concept that has more questions than answers:

  • How much money would come from decoupled tracks.
  • Who would determine the amount given and received?
  • Who would control the money?
  • How much would the tracks keep and how much would go to purses?
  • Who would be in charge of enforcement and how would it be enforced?
  • Who would be eligible to receive money from the pool  and who would have to pay?
  • How much comes from the State, Seminoles and taxes?
  • Does the purse pool money come from slots or cards?
  • What is the total amount of money to purse pools and how long would it be guaranteed?

The FHBPA has little confidence that this formula would work, last or could be enforced. The only chance of the “purse pool”  concept to succeed would be through strict, clearly understood and tightly written, enforceable legislation backed by statue. It is our opinion if other tracks are allowed to decouple, it is only a matter of time before thoroughbreds will be decoupled.

It is the FHBPA’s position that if all horsemen stay united, we can pass positive legislation or prevent onerous legislation. The FHBPA will listen to and be part of the process to formulate a possible solution to these issues. But rest assured that we will defend what we currently have in place.

All horsemen must become engaged in the decoupling issue and make your opinions heard. We ask for and need your help.

Please contact us at the FHBPA at any time with questions or suggestions. We are eager to hear from you.

William P White (Bill)

President, FHBPA