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Hialeah Racing Track May Offer Horse Racing and Slot Machines Again

As of May 3, 2007, the proprietor of the Hialeah Racing Track may have a way to offer horse racing at the park again if legislators agree to allow slot machines in selected venues.

Just this week, the House of Representatives made a committee that will reconsider the decision of whether or not to allow 10 pari-mutuel establishments in the state to offer Class II slot machines, which are usually offered at casinos owned and managed by Indian Tribes.

The Hialeah Racing Track, which stopped holding races in 2001, would join other casino racing tracks like Flagler Dog Track, Miami Jai-Alai and Calder Race Track as the County of Miami Dade to allow the slot machines.

Track officials would need to request a new license from the Division of Pari-Mutuel Betting, which stopped the license of the racing track back in 2003. A spokesman from the division said that the Hialeah Park Race Track has not requested any new license.

Esteban Bovo, President of the City Council, who manages the assets and possessions of the racing track, could not be reached for a reaction. Alex Fuentes, the founder of the Citizens of South Florida for the Preservation of Hialeah Rae Track commented that Mr. Bovo is in a difficult position because he is a council member as well as a park employee.

Mr. Fuentes led the initiative last year to block the modification to the park. Last year, John Brunetti proposed to construct a facility at the park which would have 3,700 condominiums and 1 million sq ft of commercial area. The City Council rejected any remodeling plans but allowed Mr. Brunetti to destroy the stables last January.

The racing track, which is already 71 years old, is recognized as a National Historic Monument. However, the recognition will not shield the park from the prospective development. Both Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina and City Councilwoman Cindy Miel commented that their main choice is to reopen the tracks for racing.


Thursday, 31 May 2007
Marissa Patterson