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

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