Friday, June 21, 2013

Hialeah Park and Race Track Fantasy

So let’s say somebody who can decide it decides that no part of Hialeah Park should be redeveloped as anything other than the home of Hialeah Race Track. Hialeah Park is part of Greater Miami. And Greater Miami is the Gringo Capital of Latin America. Well, it would be the Gringo Capital if it were not for the fact that a great part of the population is not Gringo. We’ll call it the North American Capital of Latin America.

And let’s say that somebody who decides such things decides that the developed area surrounding Hialeah Park is going to be redeveloped into something. And let’s say that something is an equine theme park, featuring sophisticated, cosmpolitan shops with a horsey thread running through; and upscale housing for the horsey set to hang out while acting horsey in Greater Miami, the North American capital of Latin America (Sorry, Mexico. This fantasy will not work if we make you the capital).

And let’s say that a ton of thoroughbred race horse breeders from throughout the hemisphere put up a minimum of US $500,000 each to invest in the project of the Hialeah horsey theme park through the EB-5 visa program, and they all get permanent resident visas so they can live here more than half of the year as permanent residents while they watch their horses train at Hialeah Park and race at Hialeah Park.

And let’s say that stakes races are run on the Hialeah Race Track, with horses participating from all over the hemisphere, and rich people who like to hob nob with rich people mingle with rich horsey people, and the whole thing becomes a magnet that attracts birds of a feather from all over the world, people who really don’t care that much about South Beach but enjoy the aroma of a sweaty horse and whatever else goes with it. And Hialeah and the surrounding area are transformed. And the Florida thoroughbred industry has Ocala as its northern base and Hialeah as it s southern base, and north and south find ways to energize and nurture each other.

And in the playgrounds of public parks and on school campuses, little kids learn how to play horseshoes and the small kids who stay small grow up to become jockeys.

There is a hard reality looming over the fantasy: bringing in those horses to the U.S. will require clearance from the USDA. We’ll talk about that in a future blog.

Mount up, Ladies and Dudes.
Gary D. Malfeld

Monday, June 10, 2013

Florida Thoroughbreds

Florida, Maryland, California, New York and Kentucky all have incentive programs for the breeding of Thoroughbred horses for racing in their respective states. Everything being equal, there should be no reason for a Florida owner to meet the requirements of another state to have a foal born in that state instead of Florida and be registered as a Thoroughbred of that state instead of being registered as a Florida horse. But things are not equal. And the reality that some Florida owners would prefer to have his or her foal born, for example, in New York State than in Florida suggests that the incentives are greater for owning a New York foal than a Florida foal.

As this writer sees it, if we were to do a comparison study of the economic incentives programs provided by each state competing for breeding of quality Thoroughbreds in their respective states, Florida would not come out first. And the reason why Florida would not come out first is not because the Florida incentive regime on paper is in any way inferior. The reason is because a stakes winner is going to more often bring greater benefits to its owner by winning, placing or showing in the famous race tracks of other states than in Florida.

This writer is not disparaging the quality of the product at, for example, Calder or Gulfstream. But other states are home to legendary, historic racetracks. And the most historic, legendary race track in Florida is Hialeah. And Hialeah does not conduct Thoroughbred races. And racing Quarter Horses and refurbishing the statue of the great Citation will not be enough.

Restoring the legendary magic of Hialeah Park will be critical to fortifying the image of Florida as a great state for Thoroughbred racing. And re-developing the adjacent neighborhoods surrounding the Hialeah racing park to make racing fans not only comfortable with but desirous of visiting the track will be necessary to provide a setting worthy of the jewel that is the Hialeah race track.

The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners Association needs to get involved aggressively and work with the city of Hialeah and Hialeah Park’s owner, whether that owner be John Brunetti or someone else.

I urge the voting members of the FTBOA to choose a study commission composed of visionary individuals who truly care about establishing Florida-bred horses as the gold standard for quality Thoroughbreds. That commission should make the contacts and schedule the appointments with the people in South Florida who have the power, influence and resources to extend Hialeah racing beyond the track and park, and convert the neighborhood surroundings into the dazzling setting for the jewel that is Hialeah.

Mount up, Ladies and Dudes

Gary D. Malfeld