Thoroughbred industry veterans will appreciate HB 7073’s long term commitments are unprecedented in the State of Florida. We are fortunate to have presiding officers in the Legislature who understand the depth of the Thoroughbred industry and its substantial and continuing contribution to the state’s economy.

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) grew up going to the races with her father and has been incredibly supportive of Thoroughbred issues throughout her tenure in the House and Senate.

House Speaker Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast) shares the same appreciation for the industry and has always been helpful to us as well.

We are further fortunate that Representative Stan McClain (R-Ocala) chairs the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Representative McClain spearheaded the first discussion on financial support for the Thoroughbred industry and fought for us every step of the way. We are excited that he is seeking election to the Florida Senate in November.

Senate Finance and Taxation Committee Chair Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill) supported us by defending the funding from those who questioned it in his committee.

Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Committee Representative Lawrence McClure (R-Plant City) was also very helpful in securing the funding.

Commissioner Wilton Simpson’s support of the Florida Thoroughbred industry is unwavering. As Commissioner of Agriculture, he has reinforced the economic impact and reach our breeders offer in the state. Florida remains the third-leading equine state by population with 335,000 head creating more than 112,000 jobs and it’s clear that Commissioner Simpson and our state elected leaders don’t intend to stop there. I am beyond thrilled that the House and Senate continue to invest in Thoroughbred breeding, training and racing.

Finally, the folks who represent the Ocala/Marion County area all weighed in for us at key times in the process. That group includes Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville), Representatives Ryan Chamberlin (R-Belleview), Ralph Massulo (R-Lecanto) and Bobby Payne (R-Palatka).

It is important to note that the FTBOA leadership and staff have been heavily involved in every aspect of this achievement. They are hard-working, creative and totally invested in the industry.

Congratulations to all of you in the Thoroughbred industry on today’s reassurances of stability. We enjoy firm ground and have become the envy of so many other racing states.  Today’s advancements additionally suggest that decoupling – a recurring gnaw, repeatedly beat away – should find little future foothold. This is a great time to expand your breeding plans!

It has been an honor and privilege to represent the FTBOA over the years. I have completed my last session and will be passing the baton to Jon Rees of Smith, Bryan and Myers, Inc. for him to protect and oversee the state funding in the future. See you at the races!

Return to the March 11 issue of Wire to Wire