Gulfstream Park’s unusual GPTARP slots petition has Florida horsemen wary, Daily Racing Form’s Matt Hegarty Reports

Daily Racing Form Reports on Florida Thoroughbred Horse Racing

An unusual regulatory petition is stirring confusion among Florida horsemen and breeders who do not know whether the request to the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering  indicates an attempt by GPTARP, as it is known, to conduct an end-run around legal requirements for a binding agreement with the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA).

“GPTARP,” the acronym for “Gulfstream Park Thoroughbred Aftercare Retirement Program,” is the new name for Gulfstream’s decades-old Quarter Horse permit, which was converted this past February 2013 into a Thoroughbred permit.

Last year, “GPTARP,” a non-profit entity, also sought to be declared as the lowest pari-mutuel revenue generator for a certain time period, so as to secure a “Summer Jai Alai” permit that would then, in turn, allow it to re-apply for another Quarter Horse permit.  The State of Florida turned down the request,  which was based on a phony “race” staged on April 8, 2012, featuring two Gretna “Pari-Mutuel Barrel Racing” women dressed up as jockeys and mounted on aged horses of questionable breeding that were bedecked in Western-style saddles.  The horses, one of which had been entered the same day as the “race,” were started at the drop of a flag.  Shockingly, wagering was offered on the event, which had not even been sanctioned by the American Quarter Horse Association as being a legitimate Quarter Horse race.  To round out GPTARP’s “meet,” a Thoroughbred race at Gulfstream on December 31, 2011 had been run under the GPTARP permit (likely unbeknownst to the entries’ connections).  It is predicated on these two “races” that GPTARP’s 2,000 slot machines would be installed, if allowed.

Also a remaining question is whether the GPTARP permit is domiciled in Miami-Dade or Broward.  The case is mired in administrative litigation.  Certainly, the actual location of GPTARP’s address given in the March 7, 2013 petition is troubling, with its “corporate offices” located on or off Gulfstream’s property, depending upon the source consulted.  According to the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser, the address does not exist.

But Tim Ritvo, general manager of Gulfstream Park, said horsemen have no reason to fear the plans of GPTARP.  He said that under a contract the track reached with horsemen earlier this year “they are guaranteed a share of any revenue from slot machines if we exercise the permit.” The contract runs for at least 25 years, Ritvo said.

So why is GPTARP seeking clarification of the statute regarding the requirement to have an agreement with horsemen and breeders?

Matt Hegarty of the Daily Racing Form reports here: 


Amid Ongoing Negotiations With Gulfstream Park, Headline Misrepresents Florida Horsemen

New Times Broward/Palm Beach was notified on April 12, 2012 that the headline of their published article “Gulfstream Park Draws Ire From Horsemen for Running Last-Minute Quarter-Horse Race” had been altered on a gaming-themed blog to reflect the exact opposite statement.

The Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Inc. (FHBPA), which is the entity referenced in the New Times headline and article, is presently in negotiations with Gulfstream Park concerning statutory purse (prize) contracts.  Based in Miami, the FHBPA (an affiliate of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association) represents over 6,000 members statewide to ensure Thoroughbred tracks’ proper payment and distribution of purse money to Thoroughbred owners, among its other traditional undertakings.

The FHBPA currently has a valid and binding contract with Gulfstream Park stating that only Thoroughbred racing may be conducted there.

To view the original article with the correct headline, click here.

To view a screen shot showing the altered headline, click here:  Florida Gaming Watch Headline

Paulick Report: Why Gulfstream Park is conducting a couple of Quarter Horse races in the middle of its Thoroughbred meet is anyone’s guess.

Anyone who has been following the mind-boggling approval of a pari-mutuel barrel racing permit for slots scheme in Gretna, Fla., knows the Florida state gambling laws have loopholes big enough to drive a field of horses through. Still, it comes as something of a surprise to learn that Gulfstream Park, which holds a Quarter horse racing permit, on Monday had a license application approved by the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering to conduct two Quarter horse racing dates on Dec. 31, 2011, and Jan. 1, 2012. They were approved for a total of two races in the name of Gulfstream Thoroughbred After Racing Program Inc.

Why Gulfstream Park is conducting a couple of Quarter horse races in the middle of its Thoroughbred is anyone’s guess. If I were a betting man, however, I’d say it has something to do with using the Quarter horse permit to get additional slot machines, and perhaps eventually building a second casino on the Gulfstream Park property that straddles Broward and Dade Counties.

There are questions about this mystery meeting, such as: Where will the Quarter horses come from? Which Quarter horse racing association will be the “official” horsemen’s group affilicated with the meeting? When was Gulfstream Park going public with this two-race meeting, and how will it fit in with the Thoroughbred programs scheduled those same two days? And if Gulfstream is able to use the Quarter horse permit to add slot machines to a second casino on the track property, will it share the revenue with Thoroughbred horsemen?

Tim Ritvo, Gulfstream’s president and general manager, confirmed that the track was approved for a Quarter horse license. “Gulfstream Park has decided to exercise its dormant, non-profit Quarter Horse permit,” Ritvo told the Paulick Report. “We were advised by counsel that if we didn’t exercise the permit there was a possibility of losing it during the upcoming legislative session. Every major pari-mutuel has been activating their dormant permits due to widespread expectations that lawmakers will revoke the permits during the upcoming session.

“Our request to exercise the permit has been granted. Gulfstream will run one Quarter Horse race on Dec. 31 before our thoroughbred program.”

Ritvo added that “a high-level executive from the Stronach Group met with members of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA) Thursday to discuss the matter and was hoping to continue talks through Saturday to insure the horsemen this wasn’t being done to disrupt Thoroughbred racing. Unfortunately, members of the FHBPA were unavailable.

“The Stronach Group remains committed to not only preserving Thoroughbred racing but allowing it to thrive,” said Ritvo. “No purse money from the Thoroughbred meet will be used for the quarter horse race. The purse money will come out of a separate account.”

According to United Florida Horsemen, Gulfstream is authorized for 2,000 slot machines through its existing Thoroughbred permit, though it currently has just 860 machines in operation, each generating a daily “win” of $151 – lower than casino industry standards.

The common thread that runs from the smelly Gretna license all the way to Hallandale is a fellow named Marc Dunbar. He’s part of the Gretna management group and is a lobbyist for Gulfstream Park who understands the Florida gambling law loopholes as well as anyone. Gov. Rick Scott expressed outrage over the loopholes and recently chided the state legislature to close them. But you can bet dollars to doughnuts that people like Dunbar will be working overtime to “get while the getting is good.”