Hialeah Dates Raise Concerns

Hialeah Park chooses dates for 2014-15 season.


Hialeah Park has asked for 40 days starting December 25.

Hialeah Park announced this week their 40 day meet next season will begin on December 25, 2014, and run through March 5, 2015. It plans to conduct racing Fridays through Monday. The Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (FQHRA) has made it know they are not happy with that schedule because it leaves out several of the major futurities for 2-year-olds and it maintains that track officials did not consult them in making the date change.

The FQHRA has had the horsemen's contracts since the Hialeah, Florida, track began its annual Quarter Horse meets in 2009-2010 and has it for two more race meets.

"The Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association was disappointed to learn from the Florida Division of pari-mutuel wagering Thursday (Feb. 27) at 4:30 p.m. that Hialeah amended its racing schedule without our input," FQHRA President Dr. Steven Fisch said this week. "The resulting program reorganization that will be required is disruptive to the national American Quarter Horse racing schedule, much like changing the date of the Florida Derby without consideration of its established place as a prep race for the Triple Crown. The Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association will work with our horsemen to ensure that our record-breaking seasons remain as successful as ever and that we maintain our status as one of the top AQHA programs in the nation." 

The pending change will prevent Hialeah from holding a series of 2-year-old stakes in December, including several prep races for the Hialeah Derby. According to Brunetti, Hialeah made the change largely for handle purposes and it plans to work with the FQHRA to put new stakes races on its schedule. Dr. Fisch indicated if the date issue does not get resolved, then the races that were slated as futurities for 2-year-olds would become derbies for the 3-year-olds. When racing on Mondays, Hialeah will send its signal into a simulcast market on a day when most of the country's major Thoroughbred tracks are dark.

Hialeah ended its 2013-14 season on February 23 and two of its strongest handle days were the two Mondays it ran holiday cards — Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 20) and President's Day (February 17). Under the Quarter Horse license Hialeah Park was issued in 2009, Hialeah can hold mixed meets with up to half its races as Thoroughbred races. But Hialeah owner and chairman John Brunetti does says he does not want to race Thoroughbreds head-to-head against Miami area racetracks Gulfstream Park and Calder Casino & Race Course. Those two facilities have been racing head-to-head on weekends since last summer and are scheduled to keep doing that through June 2015.

Under Florida's "pick your own dates" system, Hialeah sent the Florida DPMW its final list of dates for the 12 months beginning July 1, 2014, on February 27 -- with a schedule starting the last weekend of this December. In a preliminary filing submitted late last December, Hialeah listed 40 racing dates from November 28, 2014, to February 22, 2015. That schedule was similar to the dates Hialeah has run during its last two meets which included their most successful Quarter Horse meeting that just completed.

Hialeah's 2013-14 season  had a record-setting closing day all-sources mutuel handle of $513,000.

“We ended up breaking the all-sources mutuel total record three times during the season,” said Director of Simulcasting Peter Aiello. “We handled more on-track February 23 ($110,593) than any other day since the very first day of live Quarter Horse racing here in 2009.”

Hialeah's average daily all-sources handle for the meet was approximately $244,000 -- the highest among its five Quarter Horse meets. Hialeah officials attributed the increase partly to its races being offered for the first time on Twinspires.com and expanded coverage on TVG.

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