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Court affirms ruling that barrel racing is not a legit parimutuel sport in Florida

The First District Court of Appeal agreed with a lower court and on Tuesday ruled that the decision by Florida regulators to license barrel racing as a parimutuel sport was a misuse of the rulemaking powers of the state. Download 13-2660

“ . . . the narrow issue in this case is whether the (Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering’s) policy of treating barrel match racing as an authorized form of quarter horse racing is an unadopted rule,” the court said. 

Here are the statements from the United Florida Horsemen and the group representing the barrel racers: 

The United Florida Horsemen:

“The irony is that, during the years of litigation on this case, the professional riders who actually compete in real barrel racing have come to learn that the empty promises made by ‘pari-mutuel barrel racing’ were not about promoting their sport, but about Gretna Racing LLC using them as a means to run a cardroom 365 days a year,” said Kent Stirling, Executive Director of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, a statewide organization comprising over 6,000 Thoroughbred owners and trainers that supported the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association in the litigation.

“The unfortunate aftermath of ‘pari-mutuel barrel racing’ is that the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering immediately pivoted and issued a license to Gretna for ‘flag drop racing’—another contrived event conjured up for the same exploitative purpose,” Stirling added.   “The collateral damage for this and other statewide misuses of American Quarter Horse pari-mutuel permits is that the State of Florida cannot fully realize the immense positive economic benefit that legitimate horse racing actually brings.”

Hialeah Park, the only venue in Florida that hosts AQHA-accredited American Quarter Horse racing under the stewardship of the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association, has seen record crowds and growing wagering handle each year.

“This case is not about the merits of one sport over another,” explained Trey Buck, Executive Director of Racing for the American Quarter Horse Association.  “It’s about following the rules.  The fact is, legitimate American Quarter Horse racing is a proven economic driver nationwide.  By ensuring AQHA accreditation of American Quarter Horse racing, the State of Florida can be assured it is not only maximizing the revenue-generation of its pari-mutuel permits, but ensuring the integrity and safety of the events for fans and participants alike.”

From Wesley Cox, chairman of the North Florida Horsemen’s Association, the group that races at Creek Entertainment Gretna:

“We are pleased that the Court has said that the Department of Business and Professional Regulation has the ability, through its rulemaking, to define racing as it is conducted at Creek Entertainment Gretna.

“In the coming months we look forward to working with the agency in the rulemaking process and participating in the agency’s workshop in North Florida to ensure that our horsemen can continue racing in Gretna.”




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Ed Jenkins

I used to be a rodeo clown. Now I'm just a right wing clown who likes to bash Miami Herald Staff and politicians.


"The fact is, legitimate American Quarter Horse racing is a proven economic driver nationwide."

Now that is a funny statement... and considering all tracks are pushing for full casino operations, my guess is the statement is false.

Can't take anymore

The gaming industry lobbyists will not be amused by this ruling. They have invested a lot of time and money bamboozling their legislative lackeys and now these judges have messed things up. Now they'll have to find lots of new places for the homeless slot machines and poker tables.


A fair question by HMMM . . . Let us illustrate by pointing out Texas, for example--the largest-Quarter Horse-producing state in the nation--where breeding farms are multi-million dollar full-time employers.

In fact, one accredited racing American Quarter Horse Texas farm with 60 full-time employees bred 1,800 mares last year. Breeding fees start at $2,500, with the higher stallions commanding $35,000 a pop. Assuming an average stud fee of $5,000, farms like these can turn millions of dollars of business annually.

Accredited racing AQHA Quarter Horse syndication deals produce eye-popping price tags like a recent $12 million stallion who commanded $300,000 for each of his 40 shares.

What's more, a recent Oklahoma study that found accredited Quarter Horse racing has a $3.2 billion dollar annual statewide economic impact there. Last year, one Oklahoma farm saw traffic of more than 2,600 horses, 1,200 mares of which were also bred on the premises, and others that even originated overseas. Together, they ate more than 800 tons of hay during the same time period, among the many other expenses and staffing required to run the operation.

That's the kind of business that can be developed in Florida if we use Quarter Horse pari-mutuel permits properly.

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