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HIALEAH (CBSMiami/AP) — A longtime South Florida icon has passed away.

John Brunetti, a horse breeder and the owner of historic Hialeah Park since 1977, has died at 87.

Hialeah says on its website that he died at his home Friday in Boca Raton.

As Hialeah’s owner, Brunetti feuded with nearby Gulfstream Park and Calder Race Course for the best racing dates. When the state of Florida stopped assigning dates in 1989, Hialeah found itself unable to compete with the other tracks, and its prominence quickly faded.

Hialeah opened in 1925 and its heyday was a showplace for celebrities, pink flamingos and many of the sport’s greatest horses. A statue of Citation stands as a reminder of the track’s past.

Hialeah continued in recent years with quarter horse racing and a casino. Brunetti remained active in local business, and was active through his support of medical research and higher education.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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