State Rep. James Waldman (D-Coconut Creek) and trainer/breeder Carlo Vaccarezza have a suggestion for horsemen and for racing industry officials who would like legislators to gain a better understanding of the Thoroughbred industry.
Invite them out to the track for a tour that would include the morning activity in the stable areas on the backside. Waldman took that tour at Gulfstream Park on Aug,. 22.
He was invited by an associate of Vaccarezza. The tour was conducted by Vaccarezza, and Gulfstream president Tim Ritvo joined in on it
“It was an eye-opener to see the activity and to see the number of people who are working at Gulfstream every morning,” Waldman said. “I’d like to get other members from the Broward delegation out here to see it, and learn more about how this industry creates jobs and brings in revenues for Florida.”
The trainers at Gulfstream and other tracks are independent contractors and are not employed by any racetrack. Last year, several Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse industry associations commissioned a study by Boston-based Will E. Cummings Associates on the economic impact of the Florida racing and breeding industries.
Using data racetracks provided to the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering and a survey of breeders and trainers, the study estimated the Florida horse racing and breeding industry had an economic impact (combined direct and indirect) of $905.5 million in 2012. The study estimated that the industry was responsible for 12,188 jobs, combined direct and indirect, with total compensation of $400.1 million in 2012.
About 90 percent of those numbers were attributed to the Thoroughbred industry, with the remainder from the Quarter Horse and Standardbred industries. Waldman has been supportive of the racing and breeding industries on issues including reducing taxation of revenues on their slot machines and seeking to pass laws that would ban the controversial barrel racing and two-horse match races that several new Quarter Horse tracks have held in Florida during the last four years.
(Editor’s Note: Later this month, we will have a report on gaming issues that the Florida Legislature will consider in 2015).
Waldman was vice chairman of the House Gaming Committee in 2014. He cannot seek re-election to the House this year because of Florida’s term limits. He is the general counsel for Keiser University in Fort Lauderdale. Waldman said that in 2016 he intends to run for the Florida Senate seat now held by Jeremy Ring (D-Margate) who will not be able to seek re-election because of term limits.
As he plans his bid for that Senate seat, Waldman will remain a member of the executive committee of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States.
That organization, known as NCLGS, does not promote or oppose gaming but is primarily concerned with the proper regulation of racetracks and casinos. Its members work to develop model laws for states on gaming issues and, where consensus exists, in representing the states before Congress and the executive branch of the federal government on states’ rights issues relating to gaming.
“I’d like us to get more members of the Legislature out here to see what we do every morning,” said Vaccarezza, who is a member of the board of directors of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. “It is important for them to see what (Gulfstream chairman) Frank Stronach, Tim Ritvo and others are doing to keep building the racing program at Gulfstream,” he added. “With what Gulfstream is doing and with our breeding industry in Ocala, Florida has the potential to b the mecca of racing in the United States”
Little Mike Gets Break
Vaccarezza is giving Little Mike, the winner of the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf Stakes (Grade 1), a break from racing for the remainder of this year.
Little Mike is not injured, said Vaccarezza who bred and trains the 7-year-old gelding. But he is resting his veteran star for a 2015 campaign that might be limited to four or five races. “There’s nothing physically wrong with him,” Vaccarezza said. “But it took him a while to recover from the trip to Hong Kong. and we didn’t rush him back.”
Little Mike, a son of Spanish Steps, finished ninth in the Hong Kong Cup (Grade 1) last Dec 8. He raced just once in 2014. On May 17, he won the Flying Pidgeon Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on turf at Gulfstream, his home track.
Vaccarezza had considered running Little Mike on Sept. 27 in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (Grade 1) at Belmont Park. “But we decided to give him a rest, with the hope that he will be fresh next year and race like a young 8-year-old.”
Vaccarezza said he would plan a 2015 campaign for Little Mike around several Grade 1 turf stakes Those races are the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, the Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., and the Arlington Million at Arlington Park in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights.
A possible final goal would be the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. Little Mike won the Woodford Reserve and Arlington Million in 2012. Priscilla Vaccarezza, Carlo’s wife, owns Little Mike. They named the horse after their son Michael.