Dan Daley bill seeks to revive harness racing industry
Image via YouTube.

Standardbred horse racing
Harness racing hit its last finish line last year.

Harness racing in Florida hit its final finish line last April in Pompano Beach, but Democratic Rep. Dan Daley has filed a bill that would have them heading down the stretch once again.

The Democratic lawmaker from northwest Broward County Thursday filed legislation (HB 275) that would correct what he sees as a glitch in the Gaming Compact between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

The way things are now, there’s no way for anyone who wanted to race sulkies around a racetrack for people to bet on to get that permit.

The bill calls for anyone who has permits to run other kinds of wagering — greyhound racing, thoroughbred and quarter-horse racing or jai alai games during the 2020-21 year — to also be able to get a permit to run two-wheeled chariots around a racetrack, also called standardbred racing.

Standardbred racing went on the endangered list when new rules passed in 2021, however. Legislation allowed facilities to operate a card game without some sort of live component. That meant Pompano Park could keep its card games without having harness racing.

Daley says that 15,000 Florida jobs are at risk because of harness racing’s disappearance. A news release from the House Democrats calls the decision to close harness racing in Pompano the result of out-of-state interests controlling, with no regard for harness racing’s storied, tradition that spans more than 50 years in this state.

“Thousands of families are counting on us to do what is right for Florida,” Daley said in a prepared statement.

The Isle Casino closed its racing operation at Pompano Park to redevelop the land with a 950-room hotel, 4,000 residences along with an entertainment and retail district. The effort is now underway and will include a 15,000 square foot casino expansion.

Caesars Entertainment and its development partner in the venture, The Cordish Companies, announced last year the rebranding of Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park as Harrah’s Pompano Beach.

Daley, however, insists there’s still an audience for the kind of race reminiscent of the movie “Ben-Hur,” which features riders racing in two-wheel carts pulled by horses.

Last year’s bill did not make it out of committee, however.

Daley knows some of the people affected. As a youth, he helped in the stables as his dad participated in this specialized kind of horse racing that once put Pompano Beach on the map as the Winter Capital of Harness Racing. It also drew celebrities such as Jackie Gleason, Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford, according to Frank Cavaioli, a retired history and political science professor who wrote a book entitled, “Pompano Park Harness Track.”

“I’m not giving up on this industry,” Daley said.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected]


10 comments

  • Linwood Wright

    January 19, 2023 at 8:17 pm

    While he’s at it, he should also introduce a bill to bring back Blockbuster Video and Fotomat.

  • Claude Kirk the younger

    January 19, 2023 at 9:18 pm

    Good points there my man Linwood. Proof positive Democrats have smelly brown for brains. This harness racing fantasy makes about as much sense as The Green New Deal did. Democrats should never be allowed to touch anything even remotley related to money or business.

  • AssEater

    January 19, 2023 at 9:23 pm

    Eat my ass!

    • Perry Beagles

      January 19, 2023 at 9:41 pm

      Good job sneeking by the moderators there Mr. A. Eater.

  • Alan

    January 31, 2023 at 11:58 am

    Harness Racing is a great sport, lets hope he gets it done!

  • barry franklin

    January 31, 2023 at 1:22 pm

    for most horseman and horsewomen it’s really aout the weather nice balmy 80 degree days or 6-12 inches of snow and bone-chilling 20 dgree days

  • Jim

    January 31, 2023 at 4:10 pm

    Mr Daley,
    Thank you from the bottom of the hearts of all horsemen and women as well as the athletes (horses) for not giving up on trying to save the Great Sport of Harness Racing that has been around since February 4, 1964 at Pompano. Just take a look at the loss income that harness racing brings to the State of Florida, just to name a few entities, Feed suppliers, restaurants, automobile dealerships, grocery stores, hardware stores, real estate, the list goes on and on.
    Bring back harness racing to the great state of Florida .

  • James P Feeley

    January 31, 2023 at 6:33 pm

    Yikes! I don’t do social media so I am not privy to the “ass “comments. Nor do I think there is a partisan isuue here. I will say that real people from the frozen north do not take the demise of the nations oldest sport lightly. Pick another silly social policy to bicker over and let the adults try to save harness racing Thank you very much .

  • J VERDON

    February 1, 2023 at 8:09 am

    GAME IS CROOKED HAS BEEN FOR YEARS HORSES SUFFER ITS ALL ABOUT DRUGS

  • barry franklin

    February 1, 2023 at 2:53 pm

    hey it’s true that the harness game has taken a turn for the worse and the handle and attendance has suffered for this there are still many hard working honest people in our business years ago they used to have 20 000 people in the grandstand at roosevelt and yonkers raceways don’t know if that will ever happen again with casinos and lottos around but look at the comeback the meadowlands has made with multi million dollar handles on there racing cards thank you jeff gural

Comments are closed.


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