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Friday, October 7, 2011

Coming to a Track Near You - Barrel Racing?

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.


Florida Horsemen said...

Please contact DBPR Secretary Ken Lawson today ( ) and ask him to please STOP this gambling madness and regulatory nightmare. We have until the end of October 2011 to let him know.

As legislators begin debating whether expanded gambling is right for our State, a small group of North Florida insiders have quietly banded with an Alabama Indian tribe to exploit and literally bastardize Florida’s horse racing industry by trying to convince by Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Ken Lawson and Florida’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Racing that barrel racing—strictly a rodeo event—is the same thing as horse racing. To the casual observer, it may seem innocent enough, but to the 51,700 people employed by Florida’s multi-billion dollar horse racing economic engine, approving this proposal could equate to a permanent pink slip.

In a time when Florida government is trying to streamline regulation, foster existing businesses and maximize their potential to get us all back up on our feet and back to work, if approved by Secretary Lawson at the end of October 2011, the “Gretna Barrel” architects will have knowingly caused Florida’s taxpayers to be liable for even MORE big government by creating the need for additional regulatory oversight, licensing, drug testing and policing.

To make matters worse, the Gretna Barrel consortium of lobbyists and out-of-state Indian gaming interests are audaciously proceeding with their plan before even having gotten State approval—as if they assume that Florida regulators will simply look the other way.

Nowhere in the United States is gambling on barrel racing occurring. It’s been tried before, and even the barrel racing community will tell you it’s bad idea that will kill their beloved sport.

In its wisdom, to help control the proliferation of gambling and the problems it creates, the Florida Legislature mandated that horse racing go hand-in-hand with other forms of Constitutionally sanctioned, legal gambling. Now, the misguided Gretna Barrel scheme is making a mockery of the law, our Legislature and the will of Florida voters combined.

Pacingguy said...

I agree with Florida Horseman. This is a mockery of the law. They Gretna group is not even looking at having pari-mutuel barrel racing; all they plan on doing is distributing a token amount of purse money. It should be noted that the Florida Quarter Horse industry, the trade organization where most barrel racers come from are against this.

This should be killed off as soon as possible.