Florida QHRA President Issues Open Letter

The letter is concerning the future of American Quarter Horse racing at Hialeah Park.

Florida QHRA president Ron Smith has issued an update regarding the future of live Quarter Horse racing in the state.

Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association president Ron Smith has issued the following open letter regarding the future of American Quarter Horse racing at Hialeah Park.

Dear FQHRA members and Florida horsemen and breeders:

Several people have called inquiring about the judge's decision on the horsemen's group at Hialeah. The hearing was October 27. The court reporter had 10 days to get her transcripts in, the attorneys had 30 days to get their proposed orders in and the judge is supposed to give his decision within 30 days after that. We don't know exactly how they count the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays but the verdict should be in very soon.

FQHRA will send out emails and a press release whenever the verdict arrives. We feel very good about racing at Hialeah in the 2016/2017 fiscal year which ends June 30, 2017. We have right on our side and right has served us well for many years now.

The maneuver to control their own horsemen's group is just another ploy by the track to end up with a stand-alone casino. This is another reason to have a strong horsemen's group representative that is willing to take the time and go to the expense to defend the horsemen and the intention of the legislature when it ''coupled'' horse racing and gaming. The intention of the legislature when it allowed the race tracks to add casino gaming to their pari-mutual permit was to stabilize and increase the economic boost horse breeding provides to the agricultural economy and the state's economy as a whole. Several tracks around the country understand that the casino permit they own was only made possible by having live AQHA racing at the facility, however many tracks want to back out of the ''coupling'' now that they have the casinos in place.

When the verdict is released FQHRA will immediately go to work to set up a meet before the 2016/2017 fiscal year ends. Hialeah currently has a contract from FQHRA that is similar to the ones agreed to in the past 7 years of AQHA racing in Florida. The contract before Hialeah gives the horsemen a 5% per year increase in purse money each year in addition to other benefits. This is a very important verdict, not just for Florida but for the entire horse racing industry.

FQHRA had its general membership and board of directors meeting on December 10, 2016 at John Shaw's Pheenix Farm near Gainesville, Florida. Ron Smith was re-elected at President of FQHRA, Gary Walker was re-elected as Vice President and Snuffy Smith was elected as Secretary/treasurer. Butch Wise of Lazy E Ranch/AQHA Executive committee fame was re-elected to the BOD. Paul Blanchard, an owner and breeder of AQHA racing horses and owner of The Downs at Albuquerque, was elected as a new FQHRA BOD member. Paul has been to Florida looking for a farm to buy and is looking to buy one of the available Quarter Horse permits. We welcome Butch and Paul to a new term on the FQHRA BOD and look forward to having their insight as we move forward to more and better AQHA racing in Florida.

FQHRA hopes you all had a merry Christmas and wishes you all a happy and prosperous new year.

Ron Smith, President FQHRA

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