07/18/2005 12:00AM

Court denies Hialeah appeal


Florida's Third District Court of Appeal has upheld a decision by the Florida Department of Pari-Mutuel Wagering to revoke the racing license of Hialeah Park, which has been shuttered since a spring meet in 2001.

In a brief ruling released on July 13, the court's three judges wrote that Hialeah's appeal of the decision was without merit. The Department of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, citing a state law, revoked Hialeah's license in 2004 after the track failed to run a race meet for three years in a row.

"The record supports the agency's finding that Hialeah's voluntary decision not to run its scheduled races was based purely on economic concern, which is not a statutory exception," the judges wrote.

Hialeah's owner, John Brunetti, expressed interest in reopening Hialeah earlier this year after voters in neighboring Broward County approved a referendum allowing for slot machines at parimutuel sites. Hialeah is located in Dade County, which rejected the same referendum by a narrow margin. The referendum is expected to be placed back on the ballot in Dade in 2007.

Hialeah Park officials did not return phone calls on Monday.