By Jim Freer
Hialeah Park opened a casino Aug. 14, taking its biggest step yet in the redevelopment started in 2009 when it reopened with Quarter Horse racing.
The Hialeah, Fla., track’s casino has 882 slot machines, 20 poker tables and three domino tables.
The casino is in the renovated north side of Hialeah’s grandstand building. Unlike some other racetrack casinos, it is constructed so that patrons can look out at the track.
Hialeah will hold its fifth Quarter Horse race meet from Nov. 29 through Feb. 23.
John Brunetti, Hialeah Park president and owner, was not available for comment Aug. 14.
In a statement, he said: “Hialeah Park has served South Florida for over 80 years and with the addition of this beautiful casino we envision that the “Grand Dame” will serve the community for another 80. The Brunetti family is thankful to all supporters and look forward to Hialeah Park Race Track and Casino to once again become the go-to destination in South Florida.”
Hialeah is the seventh Florida pari-mutuel with a casino, all with Las Vegas-style slot machines.
All seven are in the southeastern counties of Miami-Dade and Broward, the only Florida counties where pari-mutuels can have casinos.
Gulfstream Park and Calder Casino & Race Course have betting parlors in a saturated Miami-Fort Lauderdale market that also has four Indian tribe casinos.
Steve Calabro, a former Gulfstream president, is Hialeah’s director of gaming.
Hialeah has not held Thoroughbred racing since 2001.
Under its Quarter Horse license, it can have mixed meets with up to half its races for Thoroughbreds.
But Brunetti has told The Blood-Horse several times that he would seek to bring back Thoroughbred races only if Hialeah does not have to run head-to-head against either Calder or Gulfstream.
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/80061/hialeah-park-opens-grandstand-casino#ixzz2c4dSefwO