Hialeah Park Back on Track

Gamblers may soon be returning to famed Miami horse track

Horse racing haven Hialeah Park may be getting a last-minute reprieve from its nearly inevitable destruction - in the form of a last-minute racing permit.

The National Historic Landmark that has long been endangered has been granted the permit by state gaming regulators, according to the Miami Herald.

After an exhaustive campaign to save the park appeared to be fading, with developers eyeing the park, the state finally granted the Miami racetrack's permit request on Monday.

Though it hasn't hosted a race in nearly eight years, Hialeah's owners are looking at hosting short, quarter races which might allow the track to have poker rooms and slot machines.

Hialeah mayor Julio Robaina and other city leaders who pushed hard for the races are hoping a first-rate gambling establishment will help revive the town's economy.

"It's the start of the beginning of getting us back to where we were," Robaina said. The mayor is also envisioning a retail development, with movie theaters, restaurants, etc., attached to the Park.

The 220-acre track, which has been closed to the public since 2006, would have to show the state that its facility is in good enough condition for the public to show up and place bets.

State Rep. Esteban Bovo of Hialeah, who once worked as the track's asset manager, called the permit "probably the most promising thing that's happened to Hialeah since the '90s, when it was racing."

Bovo said the park will require a slew of repairs and renovations, and likely won't be able to host a race for several months.

"Imagine a patient who has been in a coma for five years, and he just woke up out of that coma," Bovo told The Herald. "Hialeah Park now needs to learn how to walk again...This is going to take a process."

Local horses hope the races start sooner than later.

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