Horsemen's organizations in Florida say the latest development at Oxford Downs has eliminated any shred of credibility the racetrack had left, and it didn't really have any to begin with.
Oxford has been running “races” for the past five years to maintain a card room license. During that time, the track has taken in more than $5 million in gross receipts from the card room and $10,582 in bets on live races, according to the Ocala Star Banner.
For the upcoming Quarter Horse meet, the newspaper says the track will use horses not registered for racing and non-professional riders.
“They are just trying to find the cheapest horses they can find and let them go 100 yards with cowgirls riding them on stock saddles,” said Terry Oliver, director of the Central Florida Horsemen's Association and former director of racing at Oxford Downs. “How's that supposed to be safe?”
“I don't think that type of racing has put Florida, the county, the industry or legitimate Quarter Horse racing in a real favorable light,” said Lonny Powell, executive vice president and CEO of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association. “It's been a real disservice to the betting public. We all knew that racing was there as an inconvenient, burdensome sideshow to a card room.”
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