02/09/2009 1:00AM

Suit filed over Hialeah deed


Halsey Minor, the Internet entrepreneur who has been attempting to purchase Hialeah Park, filed a lawsuit on Monday in the Circuit Court of Miami-Dade County in Florida seeking a declaratory judgment on the city of Hialeah's 2004 decision to transfer the deed of the track to its current owner, John Brunetti.

The lawsuit, which was also filed by the non-profit group Save Hialeah Racing Inc., contends that the city violated the terms of an agreement with Brunetti and the city's charter when it transferred the deed to Brunetti. The lawsuit asks the circuit court to rule on the legality of the sale, in an attempt to get the track back under city ownership.

Hialeah Park has been closed since 2001. Brunetti purchased the track in 1977, and shortly thereafter reached a lend-purchase agreement with the city that transferred the property to the city but allowed Brunetti to repurchase the track for a nominal fee after 30 years. The lend-purchase agreement was approved by the city's voters in a referendum that year.

The lawsuit claims that Brunetti failed to comply with terms of the agreement because the track did not hold live race meets during the term of the agreement and because Brunetti did not maintain the property in "the same condition as on the day the lease agreement was signed." The suit also states that the city charter prohibits the transfer of city assets without a referendum.

Minor, who has said that he wants to restore live racing to the track, held discussions with Brunetti last year on the sale of Hialeah Park, but the discussions failed to produce any agreement.