The Real Deal Miami

Owner plans to put a new hotel at Hialeah Park

John Brunetti Sr., president of Hialeah Park, expects to break ground in 2016

August 16, 2015 02:00PM

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Hialeah Park

Hialeah Park

The owner of the Hialeah Park casino and horse racing track plans to build a hotel on the 220-acre property, starting next year.

The president of Hialeah Park, John Brunetti Sr., said he has a longer-term plan to build a shopping mall there, too.

Brunetti said, “We want it so tourists who come to South Florida say, ‘We have to go to Hialeah.’ We want to go beyond our geographic borders.”

Hialeah Park opened a casino on its grounds two years ago. “I know racing,” Brunetti said, according to the Sun Sentinel. “But I’m an amateur at gaming. It’s a whole new world to me.” But he also said “it has worked out well and has met all of our expectations.”

To hold a license to offer slot machines, Hialeah Park must stage quarter horse races on a straightaway run that typically lasts about 25 seconds.

Brunetti said he has spoken to Governor Rick Scott and other state officials about obtaining a license for thoroughbred horse racing. “I have tried as hard as I can to get back into thoroughbred racing, and I am stumped,” he said.

Brunetti acquired Hialeah Park in 1977 and closed it in 2001, citing excessive competition in horse racing. Hialeah Park reopened after state legislators paved the way for casino-style gambling at parimutuel betting facilities in South Florida. [Sun Sentinel] – Mike Seemuth