The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association has taken the first step toward converting its Quarter Horse permit to a Thoroughbred permit, for a possible Thoroughbred race meet in Marion County.
In an application filed June 23 with the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, Ocala Thoroughbred Racing Inc. requested approval to obtain a transfer of the Florida TBOA’s Quarter Horse permit. The Florida TBOA has never run races under that permit.
Ocala Thoroughbred Racing was formed this year and is a not-for-profit affiliate of the Florida TBOA.
A 2010 Florida law authorizes the creation of one not-for-profit corporation that after conversion of a Quarter Horse permit would be able to take steps to hold a Thoroughbred meet with pari-mutuel wagering in Marion County. That provision of the law was written for the Florida TBOA’s purposes.
In its application, Ocala Thoroughbred Racing said it expects to hold race meets at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s facility in Ocala.
Richard Hancock, executive vice president of the Florida TBOA and of Ocala Thoroughbred Racing, said questions of when a first meet might be held and the number of race days would depend on factors that include the pace of Florida DPMW approvals and decisions by Ocala Thoroughbred Racing’s Board of Directors.
“We view this (Thoroughbred permit) as a security blanket,” Hancock said. “Our biggest goal always has been and remains supporting Tampa Bay Downs, Gulfstream, and Calder,” he said.
But he said FTBOA also is concerned about economic issues and the possibility that some Thoroughbred tracks in Florida and other states might reduce their number of race dates.
“Florida-breds need somewhere to run,” Hancock said. “If this meet does happen, no matter how many days, it would be good for Ocala and create excitement.”
The Florida DPMW has 30 days from June 23 to determine if Ocala Thoroughbred Racing’s application for the permit transfer is complete. When deemed complete, the Florida DPMW would have 90 days to approve or deny the transfer of the Quarter Horse permit. That agency has generally approved permit-related requests by established organizations in pari-mutuel industries.
If the transfer is approved, Ocala Thoroughbred Racing would then have to apply to convert the permit to Thoroughbred. Upon approval, it would have a year to complete the conversion. Then, there would be no deadline for holding a first Thoroughbred meet.
The 2010 law allows a Marion County permit holder to have races only during days between May 1 and Nov. 30. That prevents possible competition with Tampa Bay Downs, which holds race meets from mid-December through early May and is the nearest of Florida’s three Thoroughbred tracks to Ocala.
Calder Casino & Race Course in Miami Gardens has racing throughout the May 1-Nov. 30 period.
At its racing facility, OBS holds one non-wagering race day each February and has simulcasting.