Florida: Romans, Vaccarezza to Testify at Senate Gaming Committee Hearing

by | 10.18.2013 | 7:59am
Dale Romans

It would take a pretty big reason to make a famous football coach to fly home for a day or so while his team is training to compete in the Super Bowl.

In the world of Thoroughbred racing, the equivalent of the Super Bowl is known as the “Breeders' Cup.” And for this year's edition of the Breeders' Cup—being held on November 2 in Los Angeles, California—one South Florida-based superstar horse named “Little Mike” has already made the long voyage to the nation's West Coast to compete in the $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf.   Alongside Little Mike also traveled his co-owner, South Florida restauranteur Carlo Vaccarreza, and his award-winning trainer, Dale Romans.

But, the two men have already planned to sacrifice a crucial 48 hours of Little Mike's training time before the big event to make a round trip back to South Florida from California and then back to California again.  Why?  They feel it's crucial for them to attend the October 23 Florida Senate Gaming Committee hearing at Broward College North Campus in Coconut Creek—the first of a series of workshops intended to allow for public comment on the Spectrum Gaming Study commissioned by the Florida Legislature earlier this year.  The Study results will literally shape the future of horse racing in Florida—a multi-billion dollar statewide industry that has earned the state international prominence in the horse racing scene.

Vaccarezza and Romans, together with former Southeast Toyota Distributors executive John Williams, are the founders of South Florida-based “Little Dreams Racing,” a new concept in the horse racing scene that enables “everyday folks” to own a little piece of a big dream—a Thoroughbred racehorse.  Typically, the annual net cost of maintaining a racehorse in competition begins at $25,000 a year—well beyond most people's budgets for discretionary expenditures.

So when Vaccarezza and Romans step up to the microphone on October 23 in Coconut Creek to speak to Florida Senate Gaming Committee legislators, they won't just be representing themselves and their horse racing-based businesses, they'll also be representing the dozens of “Little Dreams Racing” owners, all of whom are Florida business owners or corporate professionals seeking a “little” taste of winner's circle glory.

“We want to make sure our lawmakers know that, although Florida's horse racing business certainly attracts the lion's share of wealthy international corporate moguls, its heart and soul is built on average, working-class people who are their neighbors, taxpayers, voters and business owners,” Vaccarezza explained.  “We'll be there in Coconut Creek for them—the horsemen.”

Horsemen are those who own and work directly with horses—people who self-finance and supply the figurative “gasoline” that runs the horse racing “engine.”  They compete their horses for a share of “purses”—the prize money generated from pari-mutuel wagering handle.  In turn, their earnings finance the many employees and small businesses required in racehorse care.

“It's often mistakenly assumed that horsemen's interests always coincide with those of pari-mutuel permitholders—the actual racing facilities.  Sometimes they do—but other times, they simply don't,” Vaccarezza said.  “In crafting any future pari-mutuel laws and regulations, we think that's an important point for our legislators to remember.”

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