Barrel Racing

Barrel Racing

Anne M. Eberhardt

State Court Rejects Appeal Over Barrel Racing

Wagering at Florida facility has averaged less than $2,000 a day, officials said.

A state court in Tallahassee, Fla., on Dec. 13 denied a request by two Florida Quarter Horse associations to shut down the pari-mutuel barrel racing meet Gretna Racing has been holding at its facility since Dec. 1.

In a court order, a three-judge panel of the First District Court of Appeal ruled that the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association and Florida Quarter Horse Breeders and Owners Association “have failed to carry their burden of showing sufficient grounds for granting a stay pending the disposition of the appeal on its merits.”

Gretna Racing, located about 25 miles west of Tallahassee, is holding its meet under a Quarter Horse license issued Oct. 19 by the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. It is the first pari-mutuel barrel racing in Florida and probably in the country.

In a Nov. 30 emergency motion filed in the Tallahassee court, the two Quarter Horse associations maintained that allowing Gretna Racing to hold pari-mutuel barrel racing would  “establish a precedent for the significant and haphazard expansion of gambling” in Florida.

In the motion and in an appeal to the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings, the two associations are maintaining that pari-mutuel barrel racing is not legal under Florida laws. The Division of Administrative Hearings is scheduled to hold a hearing Feb. 2 on their challenge of the legality of the Florida DPMW issuing a racing license to Gretna Racing.

Data from the Florida DPMW show that total handle was $2,651 on Gretna Racing’s 11-race opening-day card. Through Dec 4, Gretna Racing had average handle of $1,712 on seven race cards.

The North Florida Horsemen’s Association, which is not affiliated with the two Florida Quarter Horse associations, has an agreement to provide horses to Gretna Racing.

On Dec. 2 the Florida DPMW issued Gretna Racing a license for a poker room—which it opened Dec. 9. The Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and the two Quarter Horse associations maintain that Gretna Racing is using barrel racing as a low-cost way to be eligible for a poker room that can be open 365 days a year.