Message from Florida QHRA

A message from the president of the FQHRA.

Press Release
March 8, 2013


Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association president Dr. Steve Fisch has released this letter to the public:

Dear FQHRA Members and Supporters of Quarter Horse racing in Florida,

After the 2011/2012 meet, there was a loud outcry by participating horsemen for stricter medication rules in future competitions. In response, the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (FQHRA) embarked on a quest for Quarter Horse racing in Florida to operate under Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) rules. The goal was for those rules to be in effect for the 2012/2013 racing season.

We were not successful in reaching that goal. As your president, I take my role with the Association very seriously; any time we fall short of a mark, I strongly believe that the buck stops here. As such, I want to offer my sincere apologies for not accomplishing the charge you gave me. To briefly review the events up to this point so that you will know where we currently stand on this issue:

In July 2012, I met with the leadership of Florida's governing body for racing (DPBR/DPW) to determine if they would allow for a track's house rules to be stricter than state rules. The answer was an enthusiastic yes, with the disclaimer that it would be the track stewards' responsibility to interpret and enforce the stricter house rules; the state steward is only authorized to address state rules. Randy Soth, the general manager at Hialeah, then took on the arduous and painstaking task of revamping the track's house rules to mirror ARCI's while at the same time maintaining compliance with Florida statutes. With that accomplished, December 15, 2012 — the day the meet started — was set to be a major milestone in Florida Quarter Horse racing history. We were positioned for a top spot on the leader board as far as medication reform is concerned.

Several weeks into the meet, house stewards confirmed at a horsemen's meeting that house rules would be enforced. On the last day of the meet, John Brunetti, Sr., the track owner, again announced that house rules would be enforced. Despite everyone's desire, intentions and efforts, however, ARCI rules were not enforced in the past meet; penalties continued to be based on the less strict state rules. We came close to crossing the finish line, but — just like in racing — close doesn't count.

That's where we are. This is where we go from here:

The national trend is for all states and tracks to abide by ARCI rules so that there will be uniformity across the country. Should Florida follow that trend, which we are hopeful it will, the state itself will adopt the stricter ARCI rules. Then its stewards would be able to enforce them, alleviating house stewards from the responsibility. ARCI is hosting a meeting in New Orleans in April 2013, which Florida's DPBR/DPW plans to attend. The resolution of this issue could begin at this meeting.

Regardless of the outcome of that particular meeting, I assure you that FQHRA will continue to pursue every possible avenue to have ARCI medication rules followed in Florida Quarter Horse racing. There is an increasing degree of interest in other permits here in Florida. We want to make sure the racing at all of our tracks is always held to the highest standards.

I encourage everyone to continue to work together to accomplish that goal. As we all know from racing, it's not always a fast track. With the continued support, loyalty and patience of all the horsemen, however, we will cross the finish line.

Steve Fisch, D.V.M.