Day At The Track

Open House a "Home Run" for harness racing

05:38 AM 06 Jul 2014 NZST
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Mark Mullen, harness racing
Mark Mullen and Fair Winds Farm hit a "home run" with their open house last week

MANALAPAN, NJ - July 5, 2014 - Mark Mullen of Fair Winds opened the doors to his Cream Ridge, NJ farm on Sunday, June 29, 2014 and thinks the event has already yielded favorable feedback.

"That's a home run," said Mullen of the three-hour program that drew nearly 300 visitors for a tour of the Hogan Equine Clinic, a blacksmith demonstration and the opportunity to see the Fair Winds mares and foals, retired racehorse Independent Act and the uniquely white pacer named White Bliss among other highlights.

"It was my hope to get young people exposed to the horses and to try and make a connection between the farm and the racetrack," said Mullen, a director of both the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey and the New Jersey Sire Stakes. "So we invited the Rutgers Equine Science Center, 4-H, the Harness Horse Youth Foundation [HHYF] and the Future Farmers of America. The FFA student/volunteers were a big help for us. I don't think we could have had the event without their help. Of course, we had a beautiful summer day as well."

The feedback has already been positive.

"The leader from the 4-H wrote to ask me how the kids could contact their state representatives because her kids are very interested in preserving open space and want to write letters to their legislators," Mullen explained. "The same group also participates in the Open Space Pace parade [in Freehold on September 20].

"I've heard that the HHYF had two kids sign up for the camp at Gaitway Farm this month," he added. "One young girl followed my secretary around for part of the day wanting to know everything about the horses, and how she could get involved. And after the tour and demonstration, I overheard one young lady saying she wanted to be like Dr Hogan.

"No matter what happens, that day's experience on the farm, with the horses, made a difference to some of the visitors," the Fair Winds president noted.

"That's a home run!"

"To me, the most important thing was the young kids that were here and that many of the visitors were new to horses," he said. "Beyond that, the groups and individuals that are going to take interest in harness horses or open space as a result of their visit are just great. I could not have asked for a better outcome."

Not surprisingly, the first question is will there be a Fair Winds Farm Open House 2?

"Everyone was excited to try it again," Mullen said. "Hopefully we could have the same weather, but I would consider another year. I think we could improve on some things and perhaps offer additional demonstrations, etc. We'll see..."

by Carol Hodes, for SBOANJ

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