Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Kent Stirling will be present at the Florida Senate Committee on Gaming meeting Monday (Feb. 4) in support of Dr. Steve Fisch of the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association, who will present data on the multi-billion-dollar economic impact of Florida’s horse racing industry.
The FHBPA, which represents nearly 6,000 owners and trainers of Florida’s Thoroughbred racing industry, has been working closely with the FQHRA -- the Florida arm of the American Quarter Horse Association -- to address the recent rash of phony horse-related events in Florida that have been used spuriously by various pari-mutuel permitholders statewide to bypass Florida’s live horse racing requirements in their attempt to secure slot machine licenses.
“It is imperative that the development of any long-term gaming policy by Florida’s Legislature take into account the $2.2 billion annual economic impact of Florida’s horse racing industry,” Stirling emphasized. “Legitimate horse racing in Florida employs over 104,000 people annually, and is responsible for our Ocala-based horse breeding industry annually ranking among the top three states in the nation.”
The two horsemen’s associations have strongly questioned both the legality and use of the phony horse events, which have been deliberately designed to drastically curtail the usual thousands of horses needed for a normal race meet down to as few as two horses -- thus completely eliminating thousands of jobs that would otherwise be needed to support normal racing activities, such as racetrack operations, racehorse training and ancillary breeding industries that drive the horse racing industry’s enormous Florida economic impact.
Stirling added, “Let me be clear: Our hard-working horsemen will not allow the recent rash of phony horse-related events to enable a greedy few to squander our enormous job-creation engine for the people of Florida, or make a mockery of our state to the international horse racing community.”