05/06/2013 1:49PM

Florida judge rejects track license


A Florida administrative law judge has struck down a decision by the state’s parimutuel regulator to award a license to a north Florida track that offers betting on Quarter Horse barrel racing.

In a ruling issued on Monday, Administrative Law Judge John V. Lanhingham of the Division of Administrative Hearings ruled that the state Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering ignored the statutory definition of racing in order to award the license to Gretna Racing in 2011. As a result, the division’s decision to award the license amounted to the adoption of rules without a public order, a violation of state law, Lanhingham wrote.

The ruling is a victory for the state’s horsemen groups, who had filed objections to the award of the license shortly after it was granted. Horsemen have claimed that the operators of Gretna Racing sought the license only to capitalize on gambling opportunities available to parimutuel license-holders, and that the operators further adopted barrel racing as a way to cut out sanctioned horsemen’s groups from sharing in gambling revenue.

“As this audacious case has dragged on, our policy-makers have come to realize what we horsemen knew all along – that Gretna Racing’s parimutuel barrel racing was simply a pilot project to bypass state and federal laws that protect and ensure integrity in the wagering and racing product throughout America,” said Dr. Steve Fisch, the president of the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association, in a prepared statement.

A spokesperson for the division, Sandra Podes, said that the division is still reviewing the ruling and would have no comment on Monday.