Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association Holiday Greetings from Dr. Steve Fisch, FQHRA President
Dr. Steve Fisch, FQHRA President, Extends Holiday Greetings on behalf of the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association and the American Quarter Horse Association
December 15, 2011
Dear FQHRA members and supporters of AQHA Racing in Florida,
The Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (FQHRA) thanks and appreciates all of our horsemen who own, train and breed the Quarter Horses racing right here in Florida. With your help, we will continue to develop the Florida Quarter Horse racing industry into a national leader. In the process, we also will keep our promise of economic development by the Quarter Horse industry to the Florida Legislature and the people of Florida.
It’s a fact that the FQHRA and its Florida Quarter Horse racing and breeding industry is here to stay. We continue to grow, develop and contribute to the Sunshine State’s $5 billion-plus equine industry. And, we are proud to deliver the careful oversight, sanction and high standards of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), so that the people of Florida can be assured of an integral, high-quality racing product that will grow fans, while growing new
As somewhere between 800 to 1,000 or more top racing Quarter Horses convene this year at Hialeah Park’s Third Annual Quarter Horse racing meet, their entourages and connections will result in millions of dollars flowing into the State of Florida in the form of related tourism, real estate, entertainment and other important spending. Not only is AQHA-sanctioned Quarter Horse racing a dependable revenue-generator for the State of Florida, but it is also self-sustaining, since it brings in enough revenue to pay pari-mutuel regulatory expenses, and thus costs the State and its taxpayers nothing, while bringing entertainment, quality of life and economic development to all Floridians.
But, with great success comes those who seek to dismantle it. Because Florida law recognizes the positive economic benefits of Quarter Horse racing, our State Legislature, in its wisdom, mandated live horse racing as a requirement for pari-mutuel permitholders to have poker rooms and casinos in order to balance the latter’s economic drain. To the dismay of Florida’s public policymakers, a recent attempt to exploit and misuse this law toward the ultimate goal of slot machines and the detriment of statewide horse racing has surfaced in the tiny, impoverished North Florida town of Gretna. With it has come a shocking attempt to bypass AQHA rules—rules that have long been trusted to protect animal welfare, ensure racing standards and, indeed, to protect the very definition of “horse racing,” itself.
With outrageous disregard for the AQHA and internationally respected and powerful institutions such as the National Barrel Horse Association, several politically-connected Florida lobbyist/attorneys recently partnered with an Alabama Indian Tribe in an attempt to bypass Florida’s live Quarter Horse racing requirements and have the State declare “barrel racing” as a pari-mutuel event. Quite frankly, because Florida has no statutory definition of “horse racing,” stopping this farce has been an uphill battle. In its ongoing efforts, however, the FQHRA is proud to report that we have received and welcomed the unfailing and staunch support of seven other horsemen’s organizations of ALL breeds, comprising nearly 450,000 Florida and national horsemen including the NBHA, Florida NBHA, FHBPA, FTBOA and FSBOA.
As the battle over Gretna Racing’s outrageous actions rages on, it is becoming clear that members of the Florida Legislature and the people of Florida are not so easily fooled by slick insider manipulation tactics. With outrage over what has been derided as “clever lawyering and loopholes” in Gretna Racing’s attempt to misuse Florida law, an atmosphere has now been created that will allow for legislative remedies to plug these loopholes that—through their failure to define the meaning of “horse racing”—have now created a net loss of jobs and economic development for Florida.
You see, as our legions of racing Quarter Horses and all of their trainers, grooms, owners, farriers, veterinarians and other support personnel who come to Florida with those horses that are currently training and racing at Hialeah Park until late February, thousands of fans will generate even more business and economic development during each day of Hialeah’s third official FQHRA meet. In fact, Hialeah Quarter Horse purses total over $3.8 million this year alone!
Meanwhile, as Gretna Racing’s “pari-mutuel barrel” competitions trudge along in front of consistently empty high-school style bleachers, a tiny group of eight or so horses and riders who make up its “competitors” are telling the State of Florida they are the financial and functional equivalent of our 800—1,000 horses, their people and their fans. With average “race” purses of about $172, near-zero attendance and reported all-sources wagering totals of about $1,000 per day, this charade probably gets a few hamburgers sold and the state of Florida probably creates some more red ink for itself as it regulates the eight or so horses and their riders.
In its misguided vengeance toward the FQHRA’s having done its rightful job by conditioning its sanction and endorsement of the Gretna Racing facility earlier this year upon the installation of a full-racing oval, as opposed to a dangerous “J-Track,” Gretna Racing has sadly, in turn, tried to portray its charade as “barrel racers versus Quarter Horse racing.” Nothing could be further from the truth! But the FQHRA and its members, together with the 450,000 members of the National Barrel Horse Association, AQHA and thousands of other “United Florida Horsemen” simply cannot and will not stand aside as the law is misused, with the ensuing results being financial damage and unemployment to the people of the equine industry.
So, while Gretna talks of attracting barrel racers from across the country, legitimate barrel racing professionals know that the “closed club” of eight or so horses and riders competing in Gretna, Florida do not help their industry in the least. As we all know, having only eight barrel horses in any competition equates to just a blip on the radar screen of the reality of what hundreds of horses at a real barrel competition means to the rest of the world.
The fact is, more economic development is created by local horse shows and true barrel racing events, inasmuch as they usually have well over 100 or far more entries, compared to Gretna Racing and its eight “select” horses. What’s more, with all the publicity Gretna Racing, LLC is buying and receiving from otherwise-legitimate press, you would think they would be covered up in fans and horses. Such is definitely not the case.
So, as the protracted lawsuits drone on this select group of eight or so horses and riders will be allowed to continue their strange show for the Alabama Poarch Band of Creek Indians until February 1 and 2, 2012, whereupon a judge at the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) will listen to the merits of our case. Until then, the FQHRA assures its members that the fact that Gretna Racing is presently competing does not validate its actions in any manner. The court is merely reserving judgment on this issue until our case is heard in February.
Keep in mind that allowing Gretna Racing to compete until then is actually proving our point. Previously, these folks could “sell the dream.” Now they have to “sell reality” . . . or try to keep it hidden, as the case may be.
The Florida Legislature convenes in January, 2012. The DOAH hearing is in early February, 2012. At that point, the wisdom of the Legislature and the judicial system will take over. The FQHRA is confident that, at that point, what appeared to be a great negative for the State of Florida will, in fact, have caused a righting of past wrongs and a closing of loopholes that will yield a Florida horse racing and breeding industry that will be stronger than ever. Closing these loopholes now is in the best interest of the people of Florida and the Florida horse racing and breeding industry. Gretna Racing can be thanked for creating the opportunity.
I think after the Gretna Racing saga is over you will see–once again—that when all horsemen stick together, it results in a much stronger industry. Each time Florida Quarter Horse racing has been put to the test, its strength becomes greater and greater once the test is over. This time, the test results will prove no different.
Merry Christmas and great racing luck to you all.
Steve Fisch, DVM
President FQHRA, Inc.
With the Success of the 2010-2011 Hialeah Park meet, we are excited to announce that FQHRA and Hialeah Park have agreed, once again, to run Quarter Horses for 2011-2012. This is the second year of the $26.4 million, 6 year agreement . Not only does this contract swing the doors wide open in building an outstanding Florida QH breeding program, this agreement provides and produces over 7,000 jobs. Farms, equine service jobs, Hialeah staff, Owners, Trainers and Breeders are now expanding their family of the Quarter Horse racing industry right here in the Sunshine State.
Race dates for the 2011/2012 Hialeah Park meet have been finalized! Starting December 10, 2011 and running through February 19, 2012. Accredited Florida breds will earn 20% more purse money for their owners and breeders over open horses at the 2011/2012 Hialeah Park meet, and most of the races will be accredited Florida breds preferred. A preliminary condition book for the 2011/2012 Hialeah meet will be avaialable soon. The 2011-2012 Hialeah Park Stakes schedule, calendar, and nomination forms are available! You may access them by clicking the links below.
Hialeah Race Park and FQHRA, Inc made the following six year agreement:
- Fiscal year 2010-2011 24 days of racing spread over 8 weeks, 3 days per week,
STARTING: December 3, 2010 through January 23, 2011 $100,000 per day.
- Fiscal year 2011-2012 32 days of racing over 11 weeks, $120,000/day
STARTING: December 10, 2011 through February 19, 2012.
- Fiscal year 2012-2013 30 days of racing over 10 weeks, $120,000/day
- Fiscal year 2013-2014 40 days of racing over 10 weeks, $140,000/day
- Fiscal year 2014-2015 40 days of racing over 10 weeks, $140,000/day
- Fiscal year 2015-2016 40 days of racing over 10 weeks, $140,000/day
Stakes schedules and race dates have been posted!
Race Dates: Click Here for Race Dates
Stakes Nomination Forms and Rules & Regulations: Click Here for Forms
We invite you to come to Hialeah to watch the world’s fastest athletes!