Day At The Track

Opposition to the Gretna Barrel Racing grows

07:54 PM 15 Oct 2011 NZDT
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Florida Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association

FSBOA suggests that its members and standardbred harness racing patrons review the release below and continue to express opposition to the Gretna Barrel Racing and Cardroom initiative.

National Barrel Horse Association’s Florida Chapter Supports Nearly 40,000 Horsemen In Opposition to Gretna Pari-Mutuel Barrel Racing Scheme

Posted on October 14, 2011 at

Florida NBHA State Director Linda Jones: “Florida NHBA does not and will not endorse this endeavor.”

Immediately following the October 12, 2011 announcement of opposition by the National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA) to the “Gretna North Florida Horsemen’s Association” request for State of Florida approval to substitute barrel racing for Quarter Horse racing, Florida NBHA State Director Linda Jones explicitly registered her organization’s denouncement of the scheme in a letter to Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) Secretary Ken Lawson.

Although the Gretna application was returned to its source multiple times as “incomplete,” it is presently under review by the DBPR, which will decide whether to approve the pari-mutuel barrel racing scheme. As if already presuming authorization will be given, Gretna has indicated it will open for business on December 1.

“Florida NHBA does not and will not endorse this endeavor.” Jones wrote in her letter to Secretary Lawson. With over 1,400 statewide members and 2,400 national members, the NBHA’s Florida Division is the largest in the international organization, which has 24,000 members and affiliates in 12 different countries.

Jones further added, “We wholeheartedly lend our support to the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association and the United Horsemen of Florida and seek denial in allowing pari-mutuel wagering on barrel racing in the state of Florida,”

The United Florida Horsemen include the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (5,000 Florida members); the American Quarter Horse Association (7,163 Florida members); the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (439 Florida members); the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association (630 members); and the U.S. Trotting Association (25,000 members).

The “Gretna North Florida Horsemen’s Association” scheme exploits a loophole in Florida law and is rigged with lawsuits designed to usurp statutory Florida horsemen’s performance incentives, as well as challenge a federal statute that protects the horse community with legal rights in issues such as negotiating with track owners on prize (“purse”) money.

“We have provided the people of Florida a place to compete and win money and prizes for years without the benefit of betting,” NBHA Southeastern Director Paul Stanley wrote in his October 12 letter to Secretary Lawson. “The NBHA promotes a family atmosphere at these events and feels there is no place for betting where there are children competing.”

The NBHA estimates that a majority of its competing members are under 18.

Headquartered in Augusta, Georgia since 1992, the NBHA revolutionized the barrel racing industry by pioneering the divisional format, which allows riders of all skill levels a chance to win money and prizes in barrel racing competition. To date, its official events have paid out $12,157,330 in prize money to competitors, with over $2.5 million in added money. In contrast, prize money offered at Gretna, which is neither compliant with State of Florida pari-mutuel regulations, nor sanctioned by the NBHA, is an aggregate $38,000, all of which is underwritten by out-of-state Indian gambling interests.

Thomas HICKS

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