Florida Horsemen Groups Stay United

January 2, 2012

florida  horsemen

L-R: Zoey, Kelley and Steve Fisch, with United Florida Horsemen PR Director Jennifer Pierce and FHBPA President Phil Combest.

Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association president Dr. Steve Fisch released a statement today regarding the proposed racing at Gulfstream Park. Track officials scheduled a race on December 31, which was cancelled Friday, December 30, before the race was run.

"As usual the slick lawyers from Florida continue to try put the Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred horsemens groups in disarray and at odds with each other. Once again their plan failed. This time it was under the guise of putting the fear into Gulfstream that they needed to run one Quarter Horse race in order to get a license for 2,000 additional slot machines before 2011 ended," the statement says. "The fact is Gulfstream and any other tracks that wants additional slot machines have to run a full schedule of live racing to obtain the 2,000 additional slot machines. A full schedule of live racing in this fiscal year is a minimum of 30 performances with a minimum of eight races per performance. All these tracks need to do to activate their permit is apply for racing days during the time frame that is required by Florida statutes. They did not actually have to run the races in 2011. Legally they would apply now for racing days in the 2012/2013 fiscal year of July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013. In 2013/2014 a full schedule of live racing will be 40 days of live racing.

"These lawyers desperately want to get rid of the horsemens groups that work for more and better racing opportunities and for the continued improvement of the breeders and owners program. Florida Horsemens' Benevolent and Protective Association originally agreed to racing Quarter Horses at Gulfstream, but only if FQHRA represented the Quarter Horses racing there. FHBPA would not agree to allow any other group to race at Gulfstream. As the slick lawyers saw that their plan to start a new Quarter Horse group and to cause confusion in the Thoroughbreds represented by FHBPA fall apart, the Quarter Horse race was pulled about 10:30 p.m. Friday night before the race was to run on Saturday. The grand plan appeared to be one in which the horsemens' groups fall apart so the lawyers could continue schemes such as pari-mutual barrel racing as satisfying the statutory requirements for gaming in Florida.

"The Hialeah horsemen and the horsemen of the Florida HBPA intelligently asked that a written signed contract be delivered before any Quarter Horse racing occurred at Gulfstream. This is only good business for the track and the horsemen. It protects jockeys, trainers, owners, horses and the track to do business the correct and professional way. A contract takes care of details such as workmen’s comp, etc. Naturally the horsemen would want the race to be recognized by AQHA and, as of Friday night, no official distances had been measured. The Hialeah horsemen quickly recognized that all was not as it seemed and agreed to stay together under the representation of FQHRA as they have been since October 2005.

"On Saturday afternoon, FHBPA’s president Phil Combest and Jennifer Pierce came to watch the world’s fastest athletes racing at Hialeah. The horsemen of Florida are united as we continue to work for the improvement of racing conditions and opportunities for all breeds in Florida. One day the slick lawyers will learn that each time they try to pull a fast one that not only do they further expose their plan against the horse industry but they only unite the horsemen more cohesively within their own groups and they further unite the breeds. The horsemen of Hialeah are to be applauded for recognizing the trickery."