Hialeah Park

Hialeah Park

Tom LaMarra

Thoroughbreds Possible at Hialeah in 2013

Hialeah owner/chairman John Brunetti confirmed the possibility March 1.

Hialeah Park chairman and owner John Brunetti said March 1 it is “very possible” his track will hold Thoroughbred races in April and May of 2013.

Those would be the first Thoroughbred races at the Hialeah, Fla. track since 2001.

Hialeah’s 20 Thoroughbred dates would include six Saturdays and seven Sundays when it would race head-to-head with neighboring Calder Casino & Race Course.

Brunetti said Hialeah would consider doing that, but prefers talks that would avoid it.

“I have tried to contact Calder about setting up a three-track circuit like we had before,” he said. “But I have gotten no response from Calder."

Brunetti added that he had heard no objections from Gulfstream Park over the possibility of Hialeah returning to Thoroughbred racing.

Calder officials claimed Brunetti had not attempted to reach them regarding the race schedule.

“We have not seen any attempt by Hialeah to contact Calder,” said John Marshall, Calder’s vice president and general manager for racing. “We are aware of Hialeah’s filing for dates, but will not have any comments until dates are awarded,” he said.

The Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering has until this March 15 to award dates for the July 1, 2012  to  June 30, 2013 period. It almost always approves the dates that horse tracks and other pari-mutuels select.

Calder is in Miami Gardens, Fla., and is 11 miles north of Hialeah.

Hialeah does not have a Thoroughbred racing license. Under its Quarter Horse license, it can have as many as half its races as Thoroughbred races.

Hialeah raised speculation about a possible return of Thoroughbreds when its Feb. 28 final date filing with the Florida DPMW showed the 20 April-May dates. Its preliminary filing showed 32 dates from December 2012 to February 2013, in what has been its Quarter Horse season since 2009-10.

Brunetti confirmed a previous Blood-Horse report that Hialeah’s Feb. 28 application did not mention Thoroughbred races. He said Hialeah could use the April-May 2013 dates for Quarter Horse races.

“We are leaving our options open, but I think next year would be the meet because people are asking us, ‘When are you going to bring back Thoroughbreds?' " said Brunetti. He has heard that question from fans at Hialeah, including those who come for Thoroughbred simulcasts, and from horsemen in Florida and other states.

Brunetti said it is too early to determine when and if Hialeah would rebuild a stable area. He anticipates Hialeah’s 2013 Thoroughbred races would have horses vanned in from Gulfstream or that track’s Palm Meadows training center affiliate.

Calder has about 1,800 year-round stalls.

The last head-to-head racing in southeast Florida was in late 1989, between Hialeah and Calder. Hialeah had difficulty building field sizes and received state regulators’ permission for early termination of its meet.