The Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering has approved Hialeah Park’s request to hold its 2010-2011 Quarter Horse meet from Dec. 3, 2010 through Jan. 23, 2011.
The Hialeah, Fla., track will have a 24-day meet with racing on Fridays through Sundays. It will be dark on Christmas Day, which falls on a Saturday this year. It will have racing on Monday, Dec.27.
Hialeah had previously planned to have its Quarter Horse meet from Nov. 26, 2010 through Jan. 2, 2011, with 22 live dates.
Randy Soth, Hialeah’s general manager, said the track changed its schedule partly due to requests from the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association and from trainers and owners in other states.
"Our schedule gives horsemen from states like Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico more options to run and a chance to stable their horses at Hialeah from November until our meet ends," Soth said Sept. 8.
Hialeah will end its meet when stables are ready to re-open at tracks in several other states, he said.
Hialeah held its first Quarter Horse meet from Nov. 28, 2009 through Feb. 3, 2010--racing 40 days on a Saturday through Tuesday weekly schedule. It is the only Florida track that is scheduled to hold Quarter Horse races during the state’s fiscal year that runs from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011.
A law that Florida passed this year allows Hialeah to apply for a license for a casino, with Las Vegas-style slot machines.
Hialeah president John Brunetti said in June that he is considering building a casino that would open late in 2011. As of Sept. 8, Hialeah had not filed for a casino license.
"We are dealing with litigation, so we are taking a cautious approach," Soth said.
In two similar lawsuits filed this year in a state court in Tallahassee, three Miami-area pari-mutuels are seeking to prevent Hialeah from having a casino.
On June 18, Calder Casino & Race Course filed a suit in state Circuit Court in Leon County. Greyhound track Magic City Casino and Miami Jai-Alai filed a similar suit on June 30. The suits challenge a 2010 Florida gaming law provision that allows Hialeah to apply for a casino.
The plaintiffs maintain that a casino at Hialeah would violate the Florida constitution because Hialeah was not specifically listed among pari-mutuel facilities that voters approved for slot machines in referendums in 2004 and 2008.
The listed facilities met the referendums’ requirements of holding live pari-mutuel events in 2002 and 2003. Hialeah held its most recent Thoroughbred meet in 2001, and did not hold racing again until its recent Quarter Horse meet.
Calder and Magic City have casinos, with Las Vegas-style slot machines. Miami Jai-Alai has plans to build a casino.
On July 21, Hialeah and four other Quarter Horse permit holders filed a suit in the Tallahassee state court seeking to take away Calder’s two Thoroughbred permits.
Florida Quarter Horse Track Association, the plaintiff group, maintains state laws that granted Calder its Calder permit and later authorized transfer of the Tropical Park permit are illegal because of conflicts with the Florida constitution and other state laws. Plaintiffs maintain that laws needed approval by local voters, as well as the Florida legislature.
The Quarter Horse groups’ suit asks the state Circuit Court in Leon County to revoke the Calder permit and suspend the Tropical Park permit. The plaintiffs also are asking the court to take from Calder "all rights flowing" from each permit.