At a November 3, 2011 meeting in Oklahoma requested by the Poarch Creek Indian Tribe and Gretna Racing LLC, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) flatly refused to recognize the legitimacy of Gretna Racing LLC’s self-owned “North Florida Horsemen’s Association,” or its plan for “pari-mutuel barrel horse racing,” the legality of which is being challenged in an administrative petition that was filed the same day with the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.
Gretna’s poker card room and intended slot machine parlor is based on its ownership of a Florida Quarter Horse racing pari-mutuel permit. In lieu of legitimate Quarter Horse racing, Gretna intends to use its recent wagering license award from the State of Florida to run “pari-mutuel barrel racing” in an effort to cut its expenses through the jobs that it would otherwise have to create to hold real horse racing.
Echoing the federal Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978, which protects the interests of competing horsemen in negotiations with track owners, as well as ensures continued the continued job-creating ability of the horse racing industry, Florida law also provides that, before poker rooms or slot machines can be operated, a legal agreement with the predominant horsemen’s association at that facility must be in place. Lawful horsemen’s associations are independent trade groups, not track-owned shell corporations.
By promulgating a “membership pledge” that would prevent unsuspecting Quarter Horse horse owners and competitors from negotiating with the track for their rightful share of purse monies, and would also prevent them from taking membership in any other horsemen’s organization, Gretna’s self-owned, self-created North Florida Horsemen’s Association seeks to create a monopoly situation that would bypass Florida law for the purpose of enabling card rooms and, ultimately, slot machines.
The AQHA, which has 7,163 Florida members and 350,000 members worldwide, records and preserves pedigrees of American Quarter Horses, while maintaining the integrity of the breed. The AQHA actively protects the American Quarter Horse by establishing and strictly enforcing rules that govern every AQHA-approved event in order to reflect the natural ability of the animal.
The AQHA reiterated its commitment to lawful Florida horse racing by reiterating its support of the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association and Florida Quarter Horse Breeders’ and Owners Association as the only lawful and statutory representative of the Florida Quarter Horse racing industry.