Florida Horsemen to Testify at Pensacola, Jacksonville Senate Gaming Committee Hearings This Week

Florida Horse Racing, Florida Thoroughbred Racing, Florida Quarter Horse Racing

Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse Racehorse Owner, Trainer and Breeder Representatives to Speak at Both November 14 and 15 Hearings

Leadership representatives from Florida’s most prominent racehorse owners, trainers and breeders associations will be on hand to testify at both Florida Senate Gaming Committee public hearings this week, Thursday, November 14 in Pensacola, and Friday, November 15 in Jacksonville.

Scheduled to speak at both hearings is Teresa Palmer, a Board member of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA), as well as a member of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association.  She will represent Thoroughbred owners, trainers and breeders.

At the November 15 Jacksonville hearing, Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association Board Member John Shaw will address the panel of lawmakers.   Mr. Shaw also represents the Florida Quarter Horse Breeders’ and Owners’ Association.  Both Quarter Horse organizations are part of the American Quarter Horse Association, an international organization of over 350,000 members.

“The fact that these two individuals have the degree of involvement in the Florida horse racing industry they do is a good indicator of just how far-reaching our economic impact is,” explained FHBPA Executive Director Kent Stirling.  “Our goal is to convey that to our legislators as they contemplate the implications of future public policy on our members’ businesses and their employees.”

To view the complete list of speakers and agenda for the November 14 Pensacola hearing, click HERE.

To view the complete list of speakers and agenda for the November 15 Jacksonville hearing, click HERE.

Both hearings will be Webcast LIVE on www.TheFloridaChannel.org and on the Florida Senate video page at www.flsenate.gov/Media/#broadcast

Florida Thoroughbred Breeding Industry CEO Speaks at Senate Gaming Committee Today After Florida-Bred “Mucho Macho Man’s” Weekend Victory in Horse Racing Super Bowl

Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association CEO Testifies Before the Florida Senate Gaming Committee

FTBOA’s Lonny Powell: “Thoroughbred people with major investments in the industry don’t like being treated like potted plants”

Less than 48 hours after a thrilling victory in the Super Bowl of Thoroughbred racing by Florida-bred horse “Mucho Macho Man,” the CEO of Florida’s Thoroughbred breeding industry will speak before the Florida Senate Gaming Committee at its third public hearing on the Spectrum Gaming Study today, November 4.

Lonny Powell, a former horse racing regulator now CEO of the powerful Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association, works closely with the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (Florida Thoroughbred owners and trainers, “FHBPA”), the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association and the Florida Quarter Horse Breeders and Owners Association on legislative and regulatory issues affecting the groups statewide.

“It’s fitting that Lonny speak to our Senators today, right on the heels of a Florida-bred having won the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic this weekend–the Super Bowl of Thoroughbred racing,” said FHBPA Executive Director Kent Stirling.  “Were it any other sport, today would be a day warranting a ticker-tape parade in Tallahassee, over which Lonny would be appropriately presiding as Grand Marshal.”

Powell is scheduled to speak today during the Florida Senate Gaming Committee public hearing in Tallahassee, the third edition of which drew a much smaller slate of speakers than the previous hearings.  To view the list of speakers, click here.

“It’s time for Florida’s elected officials to recognize our horse racing and breeding industry–an engine that moves enormous sums of money and commerce throughout the world–with Florida’s agribusiness backbone providing jobs and fueling business well beyond the substantially more limited promise of a casino-only scenario,” Stirling explained.

Today’s hearing runs from noon until 3 p.m. and will be webcast live on www.TheFloridaChannel.org.

Mucho Macho Man, who was bred at Adena Springs South in Ocala, garnered major worldwide media acclaim on behalf of his birth state of Florida.  Some of the headlines are below:

Washington Post:  Mucho Macho Man holds on to win Breeders’ Cup Classic in photo finish

USA Today:  Breeders’ Cup Classic win caps magic month for Mucho Macho Man

Chicago Tribune:  Mucho Macho Man gives trainer a win to savour

ESPN:  Mucho Macho Man wins by nose

Florida’s Thoroughbred, Quarter Horsemen Draw Praise for Unity At Today’s Pari-Mutuel Regulatory Hearing

October 16, 2013–The coalition of horse racing owners, trainers and breeders on hand for today’s Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering rule hearing in Broward County drew praise and recognition from others in attendance who noted the unification among Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse and even some racetrack facility interests in advocating for a cleanup of Florida’s horse racing rules.

Packed into a cramped, hot room for a hearing that was originally scheduled to last the entire day, a “who’s who” of Florida horsemen and statewide representatives from various pari-mutuel factions commented on the proposed rules in an orderly, upbeat manner that belied ongoing tensions among them stemming from the past several years of regulatory havoc.  While many lauded the new rules as a long overdue basis for change, others warned of protracted lawsuits that could erupt from their various nuances.

The hearing concluded in approximately an hour and a half, with most speakers indicating they would provide written copies of their respective suggestions and comments to Division officials later on.

Precipitating today’s hearing, wildly variant interpretations of Florida horse racing law have freely proliferated during the past several years—particularly to the detriment of legitimate, accredited Quarter Horse racing as sanctioned by the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (FQHRA).

“We definitely think today’s workshop represents a positive forward step by the Division toward ensuring the integrity and stability of Florida horse racing for all breeds–a multi-billion dollar industry with a bright and profitable future as noted by legislative consultants this month during the Florida House and Senate gaming hearings.” said Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA) Executive Director Kent Stirling, whose organization represents some 6,000 Thoroughbred owners and trainers statewide.  “We look forward to working with the Division to lend our national industry knowledge and expertise.”

Today’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering regulatory hearing—the first in a series of planned events by the agency—took place in advance of a legislative workshop series being held by the Florida Senate Gaming Committee to receive public input on the recent Spectrum Gaming Study.  The series begins on October 23 in Coconut Creek.

Hyperlinks to the proposed Rules reviewed today are listed below:

61D-2.024 Track General Rules
61D-2.025 Race General Rules
61D-2.026 Jai Alai Game General Rules
61D-2.027 Performances
61D-2.028 Jockey Requirements
61D-2.029 Qualifications of Horses to Start

 

 

 

 

 

As Florida Senate Spectrum Gaming Study Hearings Begin, Independent Horsemen Who Put on the Show Remind Lawmakers Their Interests Must be Separately Considered

With the Florida Senate Gaming Committee set to hold its first interim meeting this Monday (September 23) before commencing a series of public workshops next month (the first is October 23 in Coconut Creek), the professional horsemen of Florida’s horse racing industry seek to remind legislators and others that they—and often their interests–are independent of pari-mutuel permitholders and their casino corporate owners.

“The term ‘horsemen’ designates those men and women who are either racehorse owners, trainers or breeders,” explained Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Kent Stirling, whose organization represents nearly 6,000 independent Thoroughbred owners or trainers, all of whom individually operate thousands of businesses—most staffed with full-time employees.

“Horsemen are those individuals, businesses and their employees who make the costly investment of time and money to get a young horse ready to race,” added Dr. Steve Fisch, President of the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association—the Florida arm of the American Quarter Horse Association.  “We are the professionals who shoulder the task of breeding, raising, nurturing and ultimately maintaining that horse during its racing career.  We put on the horse racing show from which tracks profit.   Essentially, horsemen supply the figurative ‘gasoline’ that runs the horse racing ‘engine’”

“It’s often mistakenly assumed that horsemen’s interests always coincide with those of pari-mutuel permitholders.  Sometimes they do—but other times, they simply don’t,” Stirling said.  “In crafting any future pari-mutuel laws and regulations, that’s an important point for our policymakers to remember.  So important, in fact, that horsemen’s rights have long been protected by both state and federal law.”

Also defined as horsemen are members of the venerable Ocala-based Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association, who power the state’s internationally acclaimed horse breeding industry, along with another statutory organization–the Florida Quarter Horse Breeders’ and Owners’ Association—which is growing in size as legitimate Quarter Horse racing has gained exponential popularity at Hialeah Park, despite the scourge of imposter events staged by various rogue North Florida permitholders during the past few years.

As Senators begin their statewide public workshops on the results of the final phase of the Spectrum Gaming Study, united advocates from Florida’s horse racing professional organizations will be on hand throughout the entire process to ensure that horsemen’s interests are well-defined and vigorously represented.

Florida Horse Racing, Breeding an Economic Mega-Engine–Here’s Proof–WATCH LIVE

Florida Thoroughbred Horse Sales Nearly 50% over 2012; Watch the Ocala Breeders’ Sale Webcast Live!

Those who were unaware that Florida’s horse racing and breeding industry is a great investment may be stunned to learn prices for Ocala Thoroughbred horses are skyrocketing this week by nearly 50 percent over 2012.

Michael Compton of the Blood Horse, an international Thoroughbred breeding publication, reports that yesterday, the first day of the sale, 189 horses brought a first-day spring sale record total of $11,372,500, compared with 186 horses selling for $7,533,000 at last year’s opening session. The $60,172 session average, also a record, soared 48.6 percent from last year’s first day average of $40,500.  The $37,000 median price rose 48 percent, compared with $25,000 a year ago.

A filly by Limehouse (Hip No. 292), brought $320,000 from Alex and JoAnn Lieblong to top yesterday’s opening session.

“This serious distraction of ‘pari-mutuel barrel racing,’ its hybrids and related spurious lawsuits over the constitutionality of independent horsemen’s associations have the real potential of scaring away these types of investors in Florida’s horse racing industry,” said Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Kent Stirling.  “Our members need to feel confident that their investment in Florida is protected and fostered.”

Florida’s Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Associations Urge Warring South Florida Tracks to Settle Their Differences—And Soon

With South Florida’s two Thoroughbred tracks engaging in an escalating regulatory battle over racing dates, the professionals who do the “heavy lifting” to provide the actual horse racing product—the horse owners, trainers and breeders—find themselves as unexpected bystanders in an unwanted dispute.  Thus, the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA), made up of Thoroughbred owners and trainers, and the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association  (FTBOA) can only urge Gulfstream Park and Calder Casino and Racing—each facility remotely controlled by giant corporations—to settle their differences—and quickly.

“I’m all about the free market, but there are certain types of products that require a greater degree of regulation.  Horse racing is one of them,” said FHBPA Executive Director Kent Stirling.  “Done right, horse racing and breeding affords Florida with enormous economic impact because of all the jobs and businesses it creates.   But unfortunately, the current dates conflict is rooted in a statutory glitch that is being exploited by clever lawyering at the expense of what could be most beneficial for all of us, not to mention Florida taxpayers.”

Overlapping dates can drain the local horse population and fragment wagering dollars—making it difficult for the entire industry to prosper.

“This serious distraction of racing dates overlap, combined with other current issues like ‘pari-mutuel barrel racing’ and related spurious lawsuits over the constitutionality of independent horsemen’s associations have the real potential of scaring away investors in Florida’s horse racing industry,” Stirling said.  “Most of our members are small business owners and need to feel confident that their investment in Florida is protected and fostered.”

Lonny Powell, a former horse racing regulator and track operator, who now serves as CEO of the FTBOA agreed.  “It’s imperative that our members—Thoroughbred breeders, horse and farm owners throughout the state—see a flourishing, stable and growing racing industry in South Florida.  We certainly want both of these tracks and all horsemen racing in Florida to prosper.   It’s more than troublesome that this dates overlap crisis distracts from all of our collective efforts to grow Florida’s $2.2 billion-a-year Thoroughbred racing and breeding industry, which among the national few that show an increase in foal numbers, while our tracks continue to offer races that consistently feature some of the best competition on the national stage.  To place any of this at risk for a self-inflicted dates overlap collision course causes us much concern and frustration.  History has clearly shown there is no industry upside that comes from an uncooperative and intensely competitive dates battle like we’re facing here in South Florida”

Phil Matthews, a prominent veterinarian and FTBOA president, agreed.  “Much to all of our frustration, it appears that both we and the FHBPA have little ability to affect the situation.  That’s why it’s important for our policymakers to understand our members have a major investment in putting horses—our core product—out on the track, so Florida’s Thoroughbred industry can thrive.  It is imperative that we do everything we can to encourage these giant corporations to make the right decisions, not just for both their respective facilities, but for the industry and marketplace as well.  In fact, our future depends on it.”

Both organizations agree it’s long overdue for Gulfstream and Calder to finally settle their key competitive differences and successfully move forward. 

“The addition of slot revenues to purses has kept Florida competitive and held our place in the prestigious international world of Thoroughbred racing,” FHBPA President Phil Combest added.  “It was Florida’s horse racing industry that provided the platform and the partnership for the corporations that control these facilities to bring slots to Florida to begin with.  Because the horsemen stand to lose the most in this crisis, we’d like to see this conflict settled very soon.”

Florida’s Horsemen United Today at Florida Senate Gaming Committee Presentation on Horse Racing Industry’s $2.2 Billion Economic Impact

“Let me be clear:  Our hard-working horsemen will not allow the recent rash of phony horse-related events to enable a greedy few to squander our enormous job-creation engine for the people of Florida, or make a mockery of our state to the international horse racing community.” –FHBPA Executive Director Kent Stirling
 

Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA) Executive Director Kent Stirling will be present at the Florida Senate Committee on Gaming meeting today, February 4, 2013, in support of Dr. Steve Fisch of the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (FQHRA), who will present data on the multi-billion-dollar economic impact of Florida’s horse racing industry.

Dr. Fisch will be among the speakers at the meeting today, which begins at 2 p.m. (ET) and is scheduled to run until 5 p.m. (ET).  To view Dr. Fisch’s presentation and the complete meeting materials, click here (begins on page 68).  The meeting will be Webcast live on The Florida Channel’s “Web 3.”

The FHBPA, which represents nearly 6,000 owners and trainers of Florida’s Thoroughbred racing industry, has been working closely with the FQHRA—the Florida arm of the American Quarter Horse Association—to address the recent rash of phony horse-related events in Florida that have been used spuriously by various pari-mutuel permitholders statewide to bypass Florida’s live horse racing requirements in their attempt to secure slot machine licenses.

“It is imperative that the development of any long-term gaming policy by Florida’s Legislature take into account the $2.2 billion annual economic impact of Florida’s horse racing industry,” Stirling emphasized.  “Legitimate horse racing in Florida employs over 104,000 people annually, and is responsible for our Ocala-based horse breeding industry annually ranking among the top three states in the nation.”

The two horsemen’s associations have strongly questioned both the legality and use of the phony horse events, which have been deliberately designed to drastically curtail the usual thousands of horses needed for a normal race meet down to as few as two horses—thus completely eliminating thousands of jobs that would otherwise be needed to support normal racing activities, such as racetrack operations, racehorse training and ancillary breeding industries that drive the horse racing industry’s enormous Florida economic impact.

Stirling added.  “Let me be clear:  Our hard-working horsemen will not allow the recent rash of phony horse-related events to enable a greedy few to squander our enormous job-creation engine for the people of Florida, or make a mockery of our state to the international horse racing community.”

To view a list of other speakers at today’s Senate Gaming Committee meeting, click here.

To go directly to the Committee’s Web page, click here.

For additional information, go to www.FloridaHorsemen.com