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Court denies request to halt quarter horse barrel racing

Barrel racerThe 1st District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee ruled in favor of the owners of a new Gretna race track on Tuesday and refused to stay their barrel racing games as opponents challenge the activity on the grounds that it is not a legally-sanctioned form of pari-mutuel gambling. Download 1stDCAorder12-13-11

The lawsuit was brought by the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association and the American Quarter Horse Association who had hoped to persuade three three-judge panel to stop the games as their lawsuit challenging the state's decision to issue the barrel racing permit winds its way through the court.

Meanwhile, James Doris, CEO of PCI Gaming, which is part-owner of the barrel racing track with the Creek Indians, warned that shutting down the operation that opened earlier this month would result in lost jobs for some 200 employees. He accused the quarter horse organizations of "serving their small preferred club of horsemen instead of the broader Quarter Horse equestrian community including the thousands of passionate barrel racers who also race AQHA quarter horses."

Kent Stirling, executive director of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association blamed state regulators for "lack of oversight" for issuing the barrel racing permit.

“In the middle of widespread economic decline and job loss, it defies all reason that the State of Florida would expend taxpayer dollars in fierce litigation to defend the unilateral expansion of gambling through 'pari-mutuel barrel racing'—a nefarious scheme designed to drastically cut jobs, people, horses and economic impact by replacing it all with slot machines,'' Stirling said in a statement.