Florida QHRA President Issues Letter Regarding Purse Payments

Ron Smith's letter also covers the "decoupling" issue.

Florida QHRA

Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association president Ron Smith has sent a letter to horsemen regarding the purse payment issue at Hialeah Park.

Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association president Ron Smith has issued the following letter to horsemen regarding purse payments:

"First of all let us say that all money for non tested horses has been released since day one. Florida statute 550.2415 is copied (1)(a) and (4) is highlighted for your review. You will notice that in (1)(a) and (4) the statute basically says the identity of the animal, trainer and owner and the test results of any “positive tests” are confidential for 10 days after the results have been reported to the director of the division OR administrative action has been commenced. In past years since 2009, DBPR had interpreted the confidentiality clause to mean anything dealing with the positive test itself (not negative test) was confidential for 10 days after the party was served. There has been a management change since early December 2015 at DBPR PMW and the new management interprets the language to mean that if they announced the negative tests, it would break the confidentiality of the positive tests because by deduction the positive tested horses could be figured out.  DBPR has 90 days to serve the trainers. Until legislation was passed in 2015, DBPR had 2 years to serve the offending trainer. They now have 90 days.

"FQHRA officials and its attorney met with DBPR in early February to try to get the negative tests results released. DBPR was firm in their stance to wait until the positive tests were served to announce the negative tests. About two weeks ago DBPR announced they were sending out some test results. Only 4 of the many results were from Hialeah and non of the results were negative. FQHRA’s lawyers could not persuade DBPR to let us know if the four positive tests were the only positive tests through January 10. “ We continue to work on the “or” in the sentence in hopes DBPR will consider the 10 days of confidentiality to begin when the director is notified.            

"We have spoken with a high percentage of the trainers and owners at Hialeah. We have always asked the question of: Do you prefer for FQHRA to release the tested horses purses now or wait for negative test results to receive the purse money?” So far the answer has always been that the owners and trainers prefer to wait for test results but they want the results faster. The speed of the release of test results is not under FQHRA’s control. The release of the negative test results is at the discretion of Florida DBPR. The good news is that it should be within 90 days. There is plenty of money in the bank to pay all the purses when the negative test results are released.

"The minute FQHRA receives any negative test results we will release that purse to the owner. FQHRA will stay on this until the purses are paid. We are also working daily to help make sure the tracks don’t “decouple” the horses from their rightful future purse money. The legislative session ends in 2 weeks and so far there is no decoupling. We are working for the horsemen every day. FQHRA may not always tell the horsemen what they want to hear but we do tell you the real deal each and every time. The situation may not be what we want it to be but dealing with the current facts is the only way we can make progress. We need to stay together and stay the course. Racing will be here and their money will be available when DBPR releases the results unless ALL the horsemen decide they want the money released even without test results. If that is the will of the horsemen then that is what FQHRA will do. All non tested purse money has been released and as of today there was $769,308 that could be taken out of accounts from non tested that is just sitting there.

"FQHRA’s purpose is to take care of the horsemen and to increase and improve racing and breeding opportunities in the state. Sometimes the right road is the hard road to take. Until we can persuade DBPR to release the negative tests results faster it is in the best interest of everyone concerned and most importantly the owner, to pay the purses to the rightful winner. The only way that can be accomplished it to wait for the negative results. Many of you have read about “decoupling” the horsemen from their rightful purse money made by the deal the horsemen and casino made to have “racinos”. The legislative session is nearly over and to this date the legislature has seen the great value of the agricultural economic impact of AQHA horse racing and breeding in Florida. FQHRA and its alliances with the FHBPA, FTBOA and the FSBBOA as the United Florida Horsemen has been the reason there is no decoupling. You have been represented daily in the legislature by FQHRA’s lobbyist and at weekly committee meetings by FQHRA leadership and representatives. Protecting horse racing is a full time job. There may be people who say what you want to hear but when the rubber meets the road you need a group who will stand tall and represent you in tough times. FQHRA has been and will continue to be that group."

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