Day At The Track

Pompano horse people given ultimatum

09:14 AM 23 Feb 2021 NZDT
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Pompano Park, harness racing
Photo by Steve Wolf

Coral Springs, FL – On Sunday afternoon there was a meeting held with the Pompano Park horse people and track management that does not bode well for harness racing’s future at the track.

Joe Morris, Vice President of Racing for Eldorado, which owns Pompano Park, met with the horsemen and women in the race paddock to discuss the future of harness racing at the facility.

Morris said the Florida Breeders and Owners Association (FSBOA) have been notified that Eldorado would allow harness racing next year, but that could be the end of racing at the historic track.

“We are in deep negotiations with Eldorado,” explained Joe Pennacchio, president of the FSBOA. “We are trying to find a path forward to continue harness racing in Florida. Joe Morris has been great to deal with, very transparent, upfront. Lawyers on both sides have been in discussions on this statute and that statute and what ifs.”

The FSBOA has had a lawsuit since April 2020 against Eldorado concerning their efforts to obtain a full Jai Alai permit that would then do away with harness racing. Eldorado would like to see that lawsuit go away.

On Friday, Feb. 28 is when Eldorado must submit their race dates for the 2021 state fiscal year (July 1 to June 30) to the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. 

“We are trying to iron out everything we can before then.” Pennacchio said. “But there is no gun to our heads. We will be racing here until June 30 and continue to negotiate.

“We have some major hurdles to overcome,” Pennacchio added. “At the meeting the horsemen asked Joe Morris if there will be a race meet next year and he answered them. They also asked why they cannot race long term and the answer was because of the value of the property.”

It has been said that the 226 acres that Pompano Park sits on is worth an estimated $2 million an acre for development.

The FSBOA Directors said they will be discussing the offer in great detail and are optimistic that an arrangement can be made that will be beneficial to both organizations.

“I am cautiously optimistic that we have two parties that are trying to work to a conclusion that benefits everybody and maybe we can put that together.”

Attempts were made to contact Joe Morris at Pompano Park to no avail.

Pompano Park has been a winter haven for harness racing since the 1950’s. It was nicknamed the Winter Capital of Harness Racing and at one point housed nearly 2,000 horses and had hundreds of caretakers, trainers and drivers living and working at the track seven days a week.

By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

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