Florida Pari-Mutuel Regulators: Hamilton Events “Do Not Qualify As Horse Racing”
Hamilton Downs, one of the facilities operating questionable horse events in North Florida in violation of a 2013 court ruling in the “pari-mutuel barrel racing” litigation, has voluntarily surrendered its jai alai pari-mutuel permit in a Consent Order signed by the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering on October 20, 2015.
Meanwhile the Division has filed an amended administrative complaint (Case No. 2014-026021) against “Hamilton Downs HorseTrack LLC,” in which it states that the horse-related activities taking place there “do not qualify as horse races.” A hearing set for October 2, 2015 in the matter has been continued.
Florida racehorse owners, trainers and breeders describe the events taking place at Hamilton and Gretna Racing LLC as “defacto decoupling,” explaining that they are designed to skirt Florida requirements for legitimate live horse racing. The horsemen have committed to fight these spurious activities, which dramatically curtail the amount of horses required to conduct a pari-mutuel event—thereby eliminating horse-related businesses and the jobs they create.
Thoroughbred horsemen had joined in support of the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association, which prevailed in the 2013 litigation over “pari-mutuel barrel racing.”
Both point to the adoring crowds of American Pharoah fans at this weekend’s Breeders’ Cup as encouragement for Gadsden and Hamilton county officials to contemplate the actual scope of positive economic opportunity that legitimate horse racing can create.