Courtesy Hileah Park

Hialeah to Expand; Hopes to Add Thoroughbreds

The $60 million project includes an larger poker room and more slots.

Hialeah Park has announced a major expansion of its casino and indicated it will continue to work toward holding a Thoroughbred meet.

The Florida racetrack, which offers only Quarter Horse racing, made the announcement July 1 just hours after state regulators approved an agreement between Gulfstream Park and Calder Casino & Race Course. As part of the deal, Calder shuttered its poker room and halted full-card simulcasts.

Gulfstream will operate a 40-day fall meet at Calder, and offer live racing the other 10 months of the year.

Hialeah officials said the $60 million expansion project, due to be completed by the end of 2015, includes 12 more poker tables, a new simulcast theater, renovations to the Fountain Terrace outdoor entertainment area, and the addition of 235 slot machines. Officials indicated the changes at Calder led to the move.

"With the recent closing of the poker room at Calder, we believe this is the perfect time to increase the size and amenities of the Hialeah Park Casino poker room," Hialeah president John Brunetti Jr. said in a release. "In addition to more poker tables, we will also expand the dining facilities and sports bar in the poker room area."

Hialeah chairman John Brunetti Sr. said he intends to push for a Thoroughbred meet by working with Gulfstream's parent company, The Stronach Group, to "create a year-round Thoroughbred program" that reflects and supports Frank Stronach's commitment to South Florida racing.

Hialeah completed its fifth Quarter Horse meet Feb. 23 with strong gains in pari-mutuel handle. On closing day, all-sources wagering in the live program was a record $513,000, while on-track handle of $110,593 was the most since Quarter Horse racing began at the track in 2009.

Total handle for the 2013-14 meet, which spanned 40 days, increased by $4,723,394, or 94.18%, over the 31-day 2012-13 meet, and average daily handle was up 50.49%, according to figures released by Hialeah.