Florida's Thoroughbred racehorse owners and trainers—members of the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (“FHBPA”)—noted a Florida Administrative Court's approval for two key horse racing industry organizations to join their ongoing fight against Calder Casino and Race Course's (“Calder's”) so-called pari-mutuel “permit swap.”
In an Order issued May 7, 2019, Judge Darren A. Schwartz cleared the way for the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association and the Ocala Breeders' Sales company to intervene in the FHBPA effort to keep Thoroughbred horse racing at Calder in Miami Gardens, Fla., rather than replace it with jai alai. Because Florida requires an underlying operational pari-mutuel permit in order to grant a slot machine license in Miami-Dade County, Calder's move to “swap” its permit is widely seen as a means to keep its lucrative casino without the larger overhead of horse racing.
The FHBPA initiated the lawsuit against Calder in 2018.
“Millions of dollars that would otherwise be available through the payments of awards from thoroughbred races would be lost if Calder is permitted to switch its underlying pari-mutuel activity from racing thoroughbreds to conducting jai alai games,” Judge Schwartz wrote.
Although Calder received State regulatory approval to operate its “Summer Jai Alai” permit, the FHBPA has meanwhile filed a legal action that questions the process and legitimacy of the permit's issuance.
“We're soundly heartened and encouraged by the Court's recognition of our horsemen's collective economic engine and job creation contributions to Florida,” FHBPA Executive Director Glen Berman said. “Indeed, each aspect of our business and each investor who has brought money into Florida expecting to enjoy a return on their racehorse investment is critically supported by having a viable horse racing venue at Calder.”
Owned by Churchill Downs, Inc., Calder Jai Alai has announced a May 22 opening day.
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