At least in Florida it is if a quarter horse permit owner in Gretna, Florida gets their way. In a novel move, The North Florida Horsemen's Association (NFHA) and Gretna Racing, is asking state regulators to approve barrel racing with quarter horses at a meet to start December 1. They would not offer pari-mutuel racing, but if their plan was approved, they would have a forty day quarter horse meet so they could open a poker room at the facility to support a year round equestrian center.
To say this is a novel interpetation of the Florida Pari-mutuel rules would be an understatement but in addition to Hialeah and most of the thoroughbred tracks which have quarter horse permits but don't use them, think of the consequences of this move by NFHA and Gretna Racing is approved. Hialeah and tracks like Gulfstream could switch over to barrel racing and maintain their poker rooms and for those tracks in Miami-Dade county, their racinos. For all we know, Pompano Park could return to quarter horses last raced in 1986 and have barrel racing and dump the standardbreds to keep their other gambling operations going.
Now, realistically, I expect the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Racing to turn down this novel request though they should applaud the applicants for creative interpretation of the law. But think what could happen if this were allowed to happen.
Many harness racing states don't permit quarter horse racing, but one must wonder which track would be the first one to offer monte racing (racing under saddle) on a non-parimutuel basis. Offer a small purse and watch the owners of some retired standardbred decide to make a little money towards the horses upkeep by racing in these exhibition races; after all being many are being ridden under saddle already how difficult can it be. In the meanwhile expensive pari-mutuel racing would disappear and the tracks would keep their slot licenses. Unlike the quarter horse world which doesn't have pari-mutuel racing, there is a precedence for racing under saddle of standardbreds.
As absurd as the Gretna Racing proposal is, it bears watching to make sure it is not allowed to proceed; otherwise a new monster will have been released and the question would be can it be contained? After all the state laws legalize the breeds of racing, but the racing commissions establish the rules. All it would take is a cooperative racing commission to formalize the rules for monte racing and we would be on our way.