Hialeah Park Files Applications for Meets

Hialeah Park has officially applied for Quarter Horse racing dates.

Hialeah Park has filed applications for Quarter Horse racing dates, telling the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering it plans to run a 20-day meet late this year and another 20-day meet early in 2010.

In its filing Sept. 21, Hialeah Park requested to hold daytime races Saturdays through Tuesdays Nov. 28-Dec. 29, and Saturdays through Tuesdays Jan. 2-Feb. 2, 2010. The Florida DPMW has 90 days from the application date to review and then approve or reject the applications.

Hialeah Park last held a meet in 2001 when it had it offered Thoroughbred racing.

Hialeah Park president and owner John Brunetti said the track applied to run two consecutive meets with a goal of complying with current Florida law or with a new gaming law that could become effective late this year.  The pending law includes a provision that would allow Hialeah Park to have a casino, with Class III Las Vegas-style slot machines, if it holds Quarter Horse meets of 20 or more days in two consecutive calendar years.

The Florida DPMW March 16 issued a Quarter Horse permit to Hialeah Park. Florida racing laws require it to begin Quarter Horse racing within 12 months of receiving a permit.

The requirement is to hold a minimum 40 race days with a minimum eight races per day. Hialeah Park’s combined applications fulfill that requirement.

A law passed by the Florida legislature in May and signed by Gov. Charlie Crist the following month would require Quarter Horse meets to be a minimum 20 days. A separate provision would make Hialeah Park eligible for a casino if it holds 20-day Quarter Horse meets for two consecutive calendar years. However, terms of that law will not become effective unless the legislature also agrees to a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Brunetti believes there is a good chance the legislature in November or December will hold a special session and pass a gaming bill that would have the May bill’s provisions that  help Hialeah Park and some other pari-mutuel facilities, and leave Seminole issues until next year.

“There is a growing feeling that something has to be done to give pari-mutuels some financial relief and new opportunities,” Brunetti said.

In its Sept. 21 applications, Hialeah Park said it will soon apply with the Florida DPMW to operate a card room. Beginning on its first racing date, it could have a card room with poker and dominoes open year-round for 12 hours a day.

Hialeah Park would be the first racetrack to offer Quarter Horse racing in Florida since harness track Pompano Park in 1991.