07/10/2013 3:18PM

Gulfstream Park: Florida regulators say match race violated statute

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The Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering filed a complaint Tuesday against a company associated with Gulfstream Park for failing to comply with the statutory requirements for a racing permit that the division issued to the company.

The complaint states that the permit holder, Gulfstream Park Thoroughbred After Racing Program (GPTARP), did not fulfill the requirements for the permit when holding a 150-yard match race for two Thoroughbreds at approximately 10:30 a.m. on July 1. The complaint says that in order to meet the conditions of the permit, GPTARP needed to hold at least two races and that the company failed to notify the division about its intentions to hold the race at least 10 days prior to the race date as required by statute.

The complaint asks that the division be allowed to fine GPTARP $1,000 or suspend or revoke the racing permit.

The GPTARP permit has been a source of contention in south Florida between Gulfstream and the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. The FHBPA has maintained that Gulfstream has sought the permit to qualify for an additional slot-machine license, and that the company has not been forthcoming about whether it will share revenue from any additional slot machines with horsemen.

Gulfstream officials, who did not return phone calls Wednesday, have never denied that they sought the permit to secure an additional slot-machine license. And they have said that under an existing 25-year contract with the horsemen, any revenue from an additional slot-machine license would be shared with horsemen.

However, earlier this year, attorneys for GPTARP asked the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering to issue an opinion on whether the company needed an agreement with horsemen to obtain the slot-machine license, sowing confusion and ill will among horsemen. Current statute clearly states that racetracks with slot machines must have the agreement before they can operate slot machines.

The complaint filed by the division Tuesday referenced the clarification sought by the GPTARP attorneys, but it says GPTARP has withdrawn that request.

Handle on the July 1 match race was $600. The FHBPA has said it was not aware that Gulfstream planned to run the race until June 30.

A number of other companies in Florida, including Gretna Racing in the state’s Panhandle, also have attempted to secure racing permits by holding events that strain the definition of parimutuel racing. The efforts all revolve around securing the permits in case Florida law is changed to allow permit holders to conduct casino-style gambling.