06/27/2005 11:00PM

Hialeah bids to regain license

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Hialeah Park renewed its bid to regain its racing license when officials from the track appeared before a three-judge panel in the Third District Court of Miami on Monday. The track's license was revoked last year after it had not run a meet since 2001.

With track owner John Brunetti Sr. in attendance, Hialeah's attorney Barry Richards argued Monday that the track has not been able to operate because of the deregulation of racing dates in Florida. He said there was no evidence the track willfully tried to violate any statutes and that it's failure to hold a race meet for the past four years was due to economic pressures caused by the potential conflict in racing dates with both Gulfstream Park and Calder.

Attorney Joseph Helton, representing the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, told the court the track's financial hardship was not an excuse for not operating. The division handed down the original ruling to revoke the track's racing permit.

No timetable has been set for the court's ruling on the issue.

Brunetti has operated Hialeah for 28 years. Among the reasons he is seeking to regain a racing permit is the possibility that slot machines could be legalized in Dade County, which includes the city of Hialeah, within the next few years. A referendum to allow slot machines in Dade County was defeated earlier this spring.