“Gretna 5.0” Gambling Creep Could Come To Debary, Florida

Debary City Council to Take Up Proposed “Land Use Change” on May 6 Agenda

May 6, 2015–Carrying with it the suspected possibility of continuing the recent gambling creep in Florida via unsanctioned horse-related events, a “land use change” that professional Florida horsemen fear could actually be “Gretna 5.0” is on the Debary City Council agenda today.

Representing Thoroughbred and accredited Quarter Horse racehorse owners, trainers and breeders statewide, Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association President Bill White and Vice President Tom Cannell will be on hand to appear before the Debary City Council in Volusia County with the hope of conveying the devastating toll taken on Florida’s lucrative horse racing industry by spurious horse events posing as fronts for cardrooms and even slot machines.

“A real horse racing meet requires thousands of horses and nearly three times the employees to care for them,” White explained.  “We are highly concerned that the connections of Debary Real Estate Holdings are not planning to hold real horse racing.   Unfortunately, without ensuring legitimate racing operations from the outset of the proposed project, the Debary and Volusia County economy will not ever be able to realize the far-reaching commensurate benefits that real horse racing and breeding can bring.”

The Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association, the only organization that can sanction legitimate Quarter Horse racing in Florida, confirmed that it has not been contacted by Debary Real Estate Holdings, which has direct connections to Gretna Racing, Inc., the same pari-mutuel permitholder that attempted to legalize “pari-mutuel barrel racing.”

“The proposal behind today’s ‘land use change’ request will not bring more jobs, more green space, more economic impact or more revenue without accredited horse racing,” White explained.  “For each spurious pari-mutuel permit that is allowed to operate, Florida forfeits a large piece of its horse racing industry at a critical time when the need to create jobs is at its most urgent.”

To access the May 6 Debary City Council agenda, click here.

Recent news coverage by Mark Harper of the Daytona Beach News-Journal on the Debary Real Estate Holdings issue:

Media Inquiries Please Contact Kent Stirling at (305) 625-4591 or Bill White at (954) 303-5448

 

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Florida Horsemen’s New President Bill White: A Lifetime of Teaching, Coaching, Training Success Prepared Him To Lead FHBPA During Uncertain Times

Florida Horse Racing Thoroughbred Trainer Bill White is President of the Florida Horsemen FHBPA

Florida HBPA President Bill White (left) and Thoroughbred owner Jack Roberts

There must be something to that teacher/high school sports coach connection when it comes to training racehorses.  It’s served superstar horseman D. Wayne Lukas quite well and it’s also been the platform from which South Florida Thoroughbred conditioner Bill White has reached the mythical 2,000 win milestone, garnering 18 training titles along the way, from Tropical Park, to Hialeah Park–with eight consecutive years leading the trainer standings at Calder Race Course.

During his career, White has found that, like teaching, great coaching requires a love of seeing others succeed:  Helping kids, and even horses find their own definition of success. Having patience with his charges, while holding them accountable for playing their position on the team.

Now White, 62, has added a different kind of player to his coaching repertoire:  Horsemen.

On March 26, 2015, he was elected President of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, a statewide organization of some 6,000 Thoroughbred racehorse owners and trainers who do business in Florida–some full-time, others part-time.  He will serve a one-year term, during which he plans to focus on Florida’s tenacious regulatory and legislative landscape, a veritable quagmire for horsemen recently as pari-mutuel permitholders, under pressure from Big Gaming entities, seek to “decouple”–that is, untether the legal requirement to conduct live racing in order to continue slot machine and card room operations.

While some would run from shouldering such a tough job, especially given the notoriously headstrong nature of horsemen, and even legislators, who are usually independent, self-made and highly opinionated, White is up to the task and on the muscle to effect lasting change.

Florida Horse Racing

FHBPA President Bill White with Mari George, Indianapolis Speedway Owner

During his first month in office as FHBPA President, he has curtailed his training business to give his all to Florida’s horsemen.  Several times a week, White walks the barns at Gulfstream and Calder, visiting with horsemen to get their thoughts and suggestions on issues, challenges and goals.  He is aggressively pursuing an upgrade and modernization of FHBPA communications, operations and accounting, while already having flown back and forth several times to Tallahassee to testify before various legislative committees, ensuring horsemen’s positions were held firm amid the tumultuous and historic 2015 Session that ended May 1.  It has been a grueling schedule, but he expected nothing less when he volunteered for the job.

Originally from Chicago, Illinois, White moved to Largo, Florida in 1968. After earning his Masters Degree in Special Education from University of South Florida, he taught in Sarasota public schools for six years, while coaching high school baseball at Booker High School.

“The team was winless when I took over.  Three years later, we were district champions,” White recalls.

His grandfather, Lawrence Adolfie, a Thoroughbred owner in Southern Illinois, was the source of his love for horse racing as a young boy.  While still teaching and supplementing his meager income by shoeing horses on the weekends, White was given an opportunity by owner Burton Butker to train at Tampa Bay Downs in 1983.  After a few starts, he had his first winner–a filly named Satu.

“I actually called in sick to school to get the day off so I could ship my filly in from a farm in Sarasota,” he remembers.  “I was so proud of myself that I showed the principal the win picture, completely forgetting I had called in sick!”

White soon resigned from teaching, spending his first three years after that at Tampa Bay Downs in the winter, and then training at Finger Lakes, River Downs and Atlantic City in the summer.  In 1986, he began training full-time in South Florida.

With years logged in service on the FHBPA Board throughout the past decades, White has learned a great deal about the organization.

“I feel that because of my long experience in racing in South Florida I can have a positive influence,” he said.  “It is my goal to create a spirit of unity between the FHBPA, the breeders and Gulfstream Park as we all face an uncertain future.”

White and his wife, Laura, have been married since 1976.   They have two grown children, Lindsey and Jake.

Read News Coverage of Bill White’s Recent Election on @BloodHorse:  http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/91099/white-elected-president-of-florida-hbpa

Florida Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse Owners, Trainers, Breeders Adopt Unprecedented Therapeutic Horse Racing Medication Uniformity Plan

Yet, Florida Legislature May Not Act to Seal the Deal

April 22, 2014–As national voices have gained strength in the debate on the use of therapeutic medication in horse racing, a group of organizations representing nearly 10,000 Florida Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse owners, trainers and breeders had already taken the unprecedented step of uniting behind a uniform policy endorsed by both the Jockey Club and American Quarter Horse Association.  The proposal was filed in the Florida Legislature as amendment language and is yet awaiting the chance to be approved by lawmakers.

Born of a longstanding working partnership known as “United Florida Horsemen” on both Florida legislative and regulatory issues, the agreement was finalized during early April and includes the approval and endorsement of the following professional associations and organizations:

“Unfortunately, with Florida lawmakers having declared pari-mutuel and other gambling issues to be ‘dead’ for this Session, the legislative authorization needed for this unprecedented consensus will most likely have to wait another year,” explained FHBPA Executive Director Kent Stirling, a credentialed national authority who has testified before Congress on the issue.

“Florida horsemen have long stated that their goal has always been a set of national rules that gives all racing jurisdictions a level playing field in terms of thresholds and which medications are allowable.  Earlier this month, working with Matt Iuliano from the Jockey Club, we were finally able to draft and submit legislation here in Florida which achieves that goal,” explained FHBPA President Phil Combest.

Among the most notable components of the plan espoused by the United Florida Horsemen was the adoption of Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) Penalty Guidelines and agreement to adopt the Schedule of ARCI Controlled Therapeutic Medications.

“With the power of Florida’s horsemen now in complete alignment, we’re optimistic that the recent commitments toward uniformity by our industry colleagues will continue to drive the national conversation toward state-by-state adoption of both legislation and regulation necessary to make real uniformity a reality,” Stirling said.  “While we wait on Florida’s Legislature to act—hopefully in alignment with the aggressive goals set forth this week by the Stronach Group’s ambitious plan, we’re confident that Florida now sets the standard for true uniformity for others that have yet to come on board.”

Florida’s 2014 Legislative Session concludes on May 2.

To learn more about legislative and regulatory issues facing Florida’s billion-dollar horse racing industry, go to www.FloridaHorsemen.com

Florida Turning Away Quarter Horse Business Happily Received By Australian “Sunshine State”

“American Quarter Horse racing is big business and it takes a country like Australia to recognize its many economic benefits,” said FQHRA Board member Ben Hudson, who is among the group of national AQHA executives called upon by Australia to handle the project. “It’s a conundrum as to why Florida is casting aside the very same opportunity eagerly sought out by a government as large, historic and experienced as Queensland.”

FQHRA/AQHA executives were invited by Queensland’s Premier Campbell Newman to join him in making the announcement about their role in Australia’s new Quarter Horse racing program before a cheering crowd of 75,000 last month in Texas, just before he finalized a Queensland/Texas sister state agreement with Texas Governor Rick Perry.

 
Roughly twice the size of Texas and known as the “Sunshine State” Down-Under, Australia’s Queensland announced in March 2014 that it has commissioned executives from the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (FQHRA) and its parent, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) to oversee the development and regulation of American Quarter Horse racing for the entirety of Queensland—the world’s sixth-largest sub-national entity.
 
“American Quarter Horse racing is big business and it takes a country like Australia to recognize its many economic benefits,” said FQHRA Board member Ben Hudson, who is among the group of national AQHA executives called upon by Australia to handle the project. “It’s a conundrum as to why Florida is casting aside the very same opportunity eagerly sought out by a government as large, historic and experienced as Queensland.”
 
The Australian Quarter Horse Association is part of the American Quarter Horse Association. 
 
The FQHRA/AQHA executives were invited by Queensland’s Premier Campbell Newman to join him in making the announcement before a cheering crowd of 75,000 last month in Texas, just before he finalized a Queensland/Texas sister state agreement with Texas Governor Rick Perry.  During the presentation, Premier Newman reminded the crowd that Texas is the “spiritual home of Quarter Horse racing.”
 
Guided by the careful oversight and experience of the FQHRA/AQHA executive contingent, Queensland’s new Quarter Horse racing authority will develop accredited competition rules, promote the breeding and acquisition of racing stock and provide for the construction of a safe, regulation racing facility.
 
Multi-million-dollar national American Quarter Horse racing operations have long regarded Florida as ripe for business development.  The consecutive years of growth spearheaded by the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association at Hialeah Park have confirmed the existence of a strong Florida Quarter Horse racing market, but frustrating regulatory disappointments and legal wrangling during the past several years have halted business expansion, with not much encouragement that the yet-existing and prohibitive loopholes deterring that growth will be closed during the 2014 Florida Legislative Session.
 
“The business development capacity that Florida is unwittingly leaving on the table is, instead, being eagerly recruited by those who truly understand the reality of Quarter Horse racing’s economic potential,” Hudson added.  “We hope that our Florida policymakers realize before it’s too late that legislative inaction has not only allowed gambling to continue to expand in Florida without legislative authorization, and worse, at the expense of a lucrative industry that is well recognized and thoroughly understood by much larger, more populous jurisdictions as a pivotal and indispensable economic development tool.”
 
During the past three years, Florida regulators have cited the state’s lack of a definition for “horse racing” as the reason for continuing to award pari-mutuel licenses for questionable events such as “barrel match racing,” “flag drops” and this past week, a series of distorted, miscast timed events that were vehemently opposed by multiple regional and national Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing owner, trainer, breeder and jockey organizations alike.
The activities have undermined both sports by deliberately curtailing the need for the amount of horses (and thus business and employees) that a normal racetrack would otherwise generate.
 
To read more about the Queensland project, click below:

United Florida Horsemen Statement on Florida House Gaming Committee March 13 Meeting

March 13, 2014–United Florida Horsemen, a consortium of nearly 7,000 Florida Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred racehorse owners and trainers said about this morning’s Florida House Gaming Committee meeting:

“We look forward to continuing to educate our lawmakers on the billion-dollar economic impact of Florida’s internationally known horse racing industry.   We urge our legislators to seek the proper information on why decoupling would put our horsemen out of business—and their thousands of employees out of work.

If Florida is truly open for business, we must focus on fostering the thousands of existing horse racing small businesses that are already here–as well as those looking to come to Florida–by ensuring that our full schedules of racing days remain intact.  This will promote the same investment and very economic impact that lawmakers are earnestly trying to create.

To view a brochure on the Florida horse racing industry’s economic impact click here:  United Florida Horsemen Economic Impact Brochure 2-3-2014

For a video replay and meeting materials on this morning’s meeting, click here:  http://www.myfloridahouse.com/Sections/Committees/committeesdetail.aspx?TermId=85&CommitteeId=2776


www.FloridaHorsemen.com

 

Economic Boom Time At Hialeah Park as FQHRA-Accredited Quarter Horse Racing Thrives! 2013-2014 Season Begins November 29!

Something To Be Thankful For:  REAL Florida Quarter Horse Racing!

Hialeah Park’s fifth consecutive FQHRA meet has been described as its most successful and ambitious undertaking to date, and the upcoming 40-day program “ . . . will prove that Hialeah Park is a serious player and is working hard to establish a position of prominence in North American Quarter Horse racing,” Hialeah Park Owner and Chairman of the Board John J. Brunetti Sr. explained.

For weeks now, America’s biggest, most prestigious and successful Quarter Horse racing stables have been loading in to Miami-Dade’s famed Hialeah Park for its Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (FQHRA)-sanctioned 2013-2014 winter racing meet that begins this Friday, November 29.

Accredited Quarter Horsemen From Across America Clamoring To Compete at Hialeah Park’s Fifth Consecutive Successful Quarter Horse Racing Season

For weeks now, America’s biggest, most prestigious and successful Quarter Horse racing stables have been loading in to Miami-Dade’s famed Hialeah Park for its Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (FQHRA)-sanctioned 2013-2014 winter racing meet that begins this Friday, November 29.

Through the FQHRA’s stewardship, the vibrance and pageantry of Florida horse racing will be broadcast internationally throughout the United States and across three separate continents on a daily basis.

“We’ve got all our 830 stalls full, I’ve got some horsemen on hold, I’ve got others stabled at nearby training facilities, and even more who want to come,” Hialeah Park Racing Secretary Matt Crawford effused.

A former Texas horse racing official, Crawford has been busy recruiting accredited Quarter Horse racing stables and top trainers for the meet since he was hired by Hialeah Park earlier this year. “Our bigger stables are all coming back:  Donnie Strickland, Charlton Hunt, Judd Kearl, Brandon Muniz, Gary Walker, Alfredo Gomez, Ron David and Matt Frazier,” he said. “And most of them are bringing more horses.”

Indeed . . . horses, horses and more horses was the reason most cited by local area businesses as their biggest economic boost during Hialeah’s last season, as FQHRA-accredited horsemen rushed to hire enough employees to care for their high-dollar, high-powered racehorses, and scrambled for food, lodging, meals, equipment, gas and other supplies to carry them through the next several months of doing business in South Florida.

Hialeah Park’s fifth consecutive FQHRA meet has been described as its most successful and ambitious undertaking to date, and the upcoming 40-day program “ . . . will prove that Hialeah Park is a serious player and is working hard to establish a position of prominence in North American Quarter Horse racing,” Hialeah Park Owner and Chairman of the Board John J. Brunetti Sr. explained.

During the live racing season, Hialeah Park will also be open for simulcast wagering seven days a week, day and night. Available simulcast tracks include Betfair Hollywood Park, Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park, and many others.  To view the dozens of nationwide and international outlets that will be broadcasting Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association competition on a daily basis, click here.

The FQHRA is the Florida Chapter of the American Quarter Horse Association, an international organization of nearly 350,000 members that regulates and sanctions accredited Quarter Horse racing (or “Q-Racing”) to ensure that animal welfare and integrity remain paramount to produce a quality racing product.

AQHA-accredited Quarter Horse racing annually produces thousands of sanctioned races that amounted in 2012 to $131.5 million in purse money.  Accredited Quarter Horse racing generated more than $300 million in wagering at U.S. racetracks in 2012.

For More Information About the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association, go to:

www.FQHRA.com

Economic Boom Time In South Florida as FQHRA-Accredited  Quarter Horse Racing Thrives at Hialeah Park