July 1, 2014
Kent Stirling, FHBPA Executive Director
Despite related court rulings and a written complaint filed with the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering by the United Florida Horsemen about the blatant misuse of a pari-mutuel permit issued to “South Marion Real Estate Holdings,” horse-based competitions are nevertheless scheduled to take place at the permitholder’s facility (known as “Oxford Downs”) today, July 1, 2014.
Billed as legitimate horse races, the two-horse competitions are essentially a mockery of actual horse racing, and have raised deep concern about animal welfare and regulatory standards among Florida’s horse racing owners, trainers and breeders.
“We, and our many members, are appalled by the continuing disrespect and disregard for well-established industry standards and practices by a few businessmen looking for a shortcut to poker room profits,” the United Florida Horsemen wrote to Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering Director Leon Biegalski in its May 27, 2014 complaint, to which no response has been received to date.
To read the entire United Florida Horsemen complaint, go HERE.
Critically, the “Oxford Downs” horse competitions are designed to sharply curtail horsemen’s participation, so as to presumably limit the positive economic activity that would normally be generated by thousands of horses and their caretakers present at a normal race meeting—creating jobs and strengthening Florida’s economy, but removing gambling profits from “Oxford Downs’” bottom line.
“These charades would almost be comical if they didn’t have such a corrosive effect on the integrity and viability of our industries and if they didn’t result in lost jobs and livelihoods—not to mention the negative impact they have on the basic character of the pari-mutuel industry in Florida . . . “the United Florida Horsemen wrote, referring to the industry’s annual billion-dollar economic impact.
The United Florida Horsemen include the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association, and the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association. The organizations comprise nearly 10,000 Florida racehorse owners, trainers and breeders who do business in Florida.