MIAMI -

Hialeah Park has announced Cuban recording star Willy Chirino will be the face of The Casino at Hialeah Park, which is scheduled to open this summer.

Willy Chirino, who left his native Cuba at the age of 14, began his musical career in Miami and has gone on to record over twenty albums, several of them attaining platinum and gold status.

Chirino took home a Grammy in 2006 for "Best Salsa Album," and was nominated for a Latin Grammy award in 2007.

The singer is recognized throughout the world as one of the creators of the Miami Sound, a unique fusion of Cuban, rock, jazz, Brazilian and Caribbean rhythms.

"I grew up in Hialeah and I am very aware of the tradition and importance of Hialeah Park and what it represents for South Florida as a whole," said Chirino. "Therefore, being the spokesperson of The Casino at Hialeah Park is something that I assume with a great deal of responsibility. I am happy and honored to be able to work with the Brunetti family to bring back all the glamour and greatness that Hialeah Park enjoyed for many decades."

Hialeah Park says it felt that it was important to stay true to South Florida and align the venue with Chirino, who embodies South Florida's dynamic cultural landscape.

Chirino made a public appearance at Hialeah Park on the final day of racing on Feb. 17 as he announced the winner of a season long contest, which saw Hialeah Park give away a classic 1957 Chevrolet Shorty.

Watching the capacity crowd's positive reaction to Chirino, gave Hialeah Park owner John J. Brunetti all the confidence he needed to name him the ambassador of The Casino at Hialeah Park.

Frank Fiore, VP/Creative Director at Hialeah Park, was instrumental in forging the relationship between Chirino and the casino. Fiore said he felt strongly that Chirino would be a perfect fit for The Casino at Hialeah Park.

"Frank Fiore has been a friend for many years. We worked together on many projects and I was fortunate to have him managing my career," said Chirino. "I thank him for the opportunity to be able to work along with [him] in making The Casino at Hialeah Park the best entertainment attraction in South Florida."

Hialeah Park, considered by many as "the" racetrack by horse racing enthusiasts, is currently undergoing a major transformation, which will bring with it a new casino, and will revitalize one of South Florida's gems.

The renovation, which is just phase one of a future plan, will showcase a casino that will house 870 slots, 20 poker tables, and three domino tables along with a variety of lounges, cafes and restaurants.

Hialeah Park says construction crews are currently working around the clock to unveil the casino this summer.

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