Hialeah Park opened its Quarter Horse race meet May 31 with match races in front of a sparse audience that one spectator said was less than a dozen for the first race.
The horses lined up in a makeshift starting gate with no doors, and the jockeys were given a verbal "go" command for races of 110 yards.
From 2009-16, Hialeah had traditional Quarter Horse racing through a purse agreement with the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association.
Hialeah president John Brunetti Jr. said the track is making the change to reduce its racing costs. The aim of the racing appears to be to meet the minimum requirements of state laws and regulations for Hialeah to keep its casino and card room.
Hialeah is conducting the meet under a purse agreement with the South Florida Quarter Horse Association. Several of that group's founders also are part of the horsemen's group at Gretna Racing in the Panhandle town of Gretna, Fla. Hialeah is following Gretna's model of low-cost racing.
Hialeah will have racing Wednesdays through Sundays from May 31 to June 25. There will be two cards each day, both with eight races. First post times are noon and 3 p.m. ET.