Halsey Minor has a dream. The technology entrepreneur, multimillionaire, and Thoroughbred owner wants to purchase, renovate, and return racing to historic Hialeah Park, the Southern Florida track that has been closed since 2001.
John J. Brunetti's Red Oak Farm has bought Good Chance Farm near Ocala, Fla.
Florida's Third District Court of Appeals has affirmed a ruling by the State's Department of Professional Regulation revoking the racing permit for Hialeah Park for its failure to operate its scheduled racing dates in 2002 and 2003.
Saturday proved to be a good day for the past two winners of the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT). The 2004 winner Good Reward won the Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) on the Belmont Park turf and 2003 hero Sweet Return returned to Hollywood Park's lawn to capture the $350,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT).
Anna G. Brunetti, whose son John owns Hialeah and Red Oak Farm near Ocala, Fla., died March 5 in Miami after a brief illness
Representatives of the New York Racing Association and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association confirmed they have held discussions about reopening closed Hialeah Park for stabling and a winter race meet, though they differ on the plan's prospects.
Foreverness, a 3-year-old winning son of Island Whirl, brought the top price of $102,000 Tuesday during the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic July sale of 2-year-olds in training and older horses of racing age.
Legislation that would mandate three distinct seasons of Thoroughbred racing in South Florida has been introduced in the House by Rep. Rene Garcia, whose district includes Hialeah Park. Another bill introduced by Garcia calls for statutory changes related to racing dates.
With the Florida legislature preparing to begin its annual session on Jan. 22, Hialeah Park filed the opening salvo in its efforts to run a live race meet in 2003.
Hialeah Park owner John Brunetti has asked six organizations to each contribute $270,000 toward the cost of keeping the facility open for winter training. If they don't, Brunetti apparently will pull the plug on an endeavor that began only weeks ago.
Despite uncertainty surrounding the viability of a live race meet, Hialeah Park will keep its backstretch and racing surface open for training from November through April 2002.
What may have been Hialeah Park's last live meet was reportedly its best ever.
Having been rebuffed by State of Florida lawmakers in his efforts to revive legislation that would allow his track exclusive operating dates, Hialeah Park chairman John Brunetti said he does not expect the historic track to open in 2002 or, quite possibly, ever again.
Hialeah Park may close for good when the historic South Florida racetrack ends its meet May 22. Efforts by track owner John Brunetti to restore the regulation of racing dates failed, so he said he'll start making plans to develop the property.
In an April 17 letter to Hialeah chairman John Brunetti, Tom Meeker, president and chief executive officer of Churchill Downs Inc., flatly denied allegations of collusion with Magna Entertainment Corp. in their filings for 2002 racing dates for their Florida properties. Churchill Downs owns Calder Race Course, and Magna Entertainment owns Gulfstream Park.
In the absence of a dates agreement between three Thoroughbred tracks in South Florida, Hialeah Park chairman John Brunetti has proposed a year-round, three-track schedule, and said Hialeah would allow Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park to have the first and second choices. There have been hints the current meet at historic Hialeah could be its last.
Though its future is imperiled by the prospect of head-to-head competition from Gulfstream Park and Calder Race Course, Hialeah Park posted strong numbers through its first three weeks of live racing. Buoyed by good weather, a resolution of its differences with the local horsemen's association, and an increase in field size, Hialeah recorded a 20% jump in total handle and a 3% increase in on-track attendance.
In 2000, Hialeah held its meet at Gulfstream, but live racing could return to the historic facility in 2001.
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