Thoroughbred racing interests show rare sign of unity at pari-mutuel rule hearing

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A group of horseracing owners, trainers and breeders demonstrated a rare unity of purpose during a rule meeting Wednesday of the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.

The coalition drew praise from those attending the Broward County hearing, saying unification in the industry is a first step in cleaning up the state’s horse racing rules.

The meeting, scheduled to take the whole day, concluded in only an hour and a half, due to the organized nature of the representatives on hand — a virtual “who’s who” of Florida horsemen and agents of various pari-mutuel companies.  

The hearings were to help clarify Florida horse racing law, which often harms many legitimate, accredited Quarter Horse racing as authorized by the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (FQHRA).

Several speakers lauded the new rules as long-overdue changes, while others warned of protracted lawsuits that could emerge from some of the intricacies in new rules. The goal of the panel will discuss a variety of gambling rule changes, including racetrack and Jai Alai game rules, new requirements for jockeys and qualifications for starting Thoroughbred races.

“We definitely think today’s workshop represents a positive forward step by the Division toward ensuring the integrity and stability of Florida horse racing for all breeds,” said Kent Stirling, Executive Director of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA). “We look forward to working with the Division to lend our national industry knowledge and expertise.”

The FHBPA represents nearly 6,000 of the state’s Thoroughbred owners and trainers.  

The hearing of the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering is first in a series — beginning October 23 in Coconut Creek — for public input on the recent Spectrum Gaming Study.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.