Day At The Track

NJ Secretary of Agriculture visits Fair Wind Farms

12:12 PM 12 Jun 2018 NZST
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New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher presents Mark Mullen, Fair Winds Farm owner a proclamation from Gov. Phil Murphy declaring June the Month of the Horse in the Garden State.
New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher listens to a lecture on the Harness Horse Youth Foundation
New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher and Legistlator Ronald S. Dancer pose for photos with kids and horse

CREAM RIDGE, NJ -- June 11, 2018 -- New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher visited Standardbred breeding facility Fair Winds Farm on Friday and presented owner Mark Mullen with a proclamation from Gov. Phil Murphy declaring June the Month of the Horse in the Garden State. The horse was designated the state animal in 1977.

Other officials attending the ceremony included State Assemblymen Ron Dancer and Eric Houghtaling as well as Monmouth County Freeholders Gerry Scharfenberger and Patrick Impreveduto.

The event, arranged through the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey, included a tour of Fair Wind Farm, a visit with Dr. Patty Hogan at Hogan Equine Clinic, which is located on the grounds of the farm, and a presentation from the Harness Horse Youth Foundation.

Fair Wind Farms, a 500-acre breeding and boarding facility in Upper Freehold Township, was the state’s Standardbred Breeder of the Year in 2017. It has been in operation for nearly 50 years.

“It’s so exciting to be here at Fair Winds Farm,” Fisher said. “It’s a premier institution. We’re treated to foals out in the fields and it’s always wonderful. The equine industry is amazingly important in this state. We have rolling acres of farmland that are supporting equine activities in the state and it’s imbued in the history of New Jersey in so many ways.”

Assemblymen Dancer and Houghtaling told those in attendance that Thursday was a “big day” for the state’s equine industry because the legislature had unanimously passed a bill that would permit casinos and racetrack to offer sports betting and the assembly advanced a bill that would exempt horse boarding from state sales tax.

Gov. Murphy signed the sports betting bill Monday.

“We didn’t get the slots at the tracks to help us, but we have an opportunity now to bring in additional incremental revenues that are direly needed,” Dancer said. “We have a great opportunity, we’re just waiting for the governor to sign the bill. (And) we’re going to do away with the sales tax being charged to everyone that is boarding horses. This affects the entire equine industry. We want to get this done so we can preserve and enhance this great industry that we have.”

Houghtaling, too, was buoyed by the sports betting bill and its potential impact on the equine industry.

“As I’m thinking about that bill, I’m also thinking about standing on properties like this and preserving these kinds of properties,” Houghtaling said. “We haven’t been able to make (racinos) happen but now we’re going to have sports betting that will be helpful to Freehold and Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands. That will be great for our horse industry.”

Monmouth County Freeholders Scharfenberger and Impreveduto also presented Mullen with a proclamation celebrating the equine industry and the Month of the Horse.

“When I think of Monmouth County, certainly you think of the shore, but the other half of that equation is these beautiful farms we have out here,” Scharfenberger said. “It’s very important we keep it that way and support horse farms and horseracing and support the open space all this provides us.”

Other speakers during the event included SBOANJ Executive Administrator Al Ochsner and Mullen. Fair Winds, which is home to 35 broodmares, last year enjoyed its best yearling sale at the Standardbred Horse Sale, with $1.74 million in gross sales and sales-leading average of $92,000 for 19 horses.

“We’ve faced many challenges over the years keeping racing and breeding in New Jersey strong,” said Mullen, who also serves as the SBOANJ’s first vice president. “These recent legislatives success that we had yesterday with the sports wagering and the revision of the sales tax are significant and important improvements for us.

“We have one other legislative effort that we’re hoping to lobby for, which is a little bit of a budget resolution that would help our purses for racing, both Standardbred and Thoroughbred, and we need some additional support in the assembly to help that go through. Thank you all for coming out.”

Fisher and other visitors remained on the farm for more than an hour, touring the facilities and talking with members of the racing community.

“I think we’re going to see some brighter days going forward,” Fisher said.

by Courtney Stafford, for the SBOA/NJ

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