10/01/2004 11:00PM

Hialeah may lose permit

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Hialeah Park, which closed its doors in 2001 following the deregulation of racing dates in south Florida, may now have to forfeit its operating permit after a government-appointed hearing officer ruled that the track cannot blame Gulfstream Park or Calder for its inability to conduct a live meet.

The finding of the hearing officer, Michael Parrish, was in accordance with a similar ruling handed down by the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. In his ruling, Parrish stated that only unforeseen acts, such as a fire or strike, can lead to the cancellation of a race meet. Hialeah closed because of its inability to attract enough horses to hold a meet.

"This is about as close as it comes to a death knell for Hialeah as we've seen," said David Romanik, legal counsel for Hialeah.

Officials from Gulfstream and Calder had lobbied for the state to revoke Hialeah's permit for several years.

Hialeah has 15 days to file an appeal with the wagering division, which is unlikely, or 30 days to file an appeal in district court.