FREEHOLD, NJ - - In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, Freehold Raceway will be the scene of a special race featuring drivers of Irish heritage on Saturday, March 15. The winner of the race, which will be sponsored by Mary and Peter Grandich, of Freehold New Jersey, will receive a blanket and a trophy. The presentation will be made by Irish-American boxing great, Gerry Cooney. “As a harness owner and racing fan, I’m honored to be sponsoring the St. Paddy Pace,” said Grandich. “My wife, Mary, was born and raised in Ireland and we were married there, so I have a deep connection to the Irish people and culture. I’m looking forward to this 'green' day at the races.” The drivers scheduled to participate in the race are Jack Baggitt, Jr., George Brennan, Corey Callahan, John Sheehan, John McDermott, plus a trio of native Irish drivers, “Irish” Joe Hanney, Anthony Haughan, and Jonathan Dunne. Callahan, recipient of the 2014 Rising Star Award, currently leads all North American drivers in both wins and money earnings. George Brennan is a winner of more than 8,000 races lifetime and one of the sports leading drivers for many years. Baggitt, Sheehan and McDermott are all longtime Freehold mainstays. The trio of “Irish” Joe Hanney, Jonathan Dunne and Anthony Haughan is a reunion celebrating many years of driving and training together throughout Ireland, England, Canada, and the United States. Dunne, who currently resides in Ireland, holds the driving title in his country as well as in the UK. Haughan is a top driver in Canada closing in on his 1000 wins. This will be the first time for Haughan and Dunne participating over the Freehold oval. Freehold Raceway is the nation's oldest and fastest daytime half mile harness racing track. Submitted by Freehold Raceway Publicity Department
Freehold, NJ --- Freehold Raceway will race three Mondays - February 24, March 3 & 10 - to make up for lost race days due to winter weather. The additional Monday cards will be drawn on Thursdays. A condition sheet for the Monday, February 24 card will be available on Wednesday with the draw on Thursday, February 20 (declare in by 9:00am). The balance of Freehold's draw schedule will remain unchanged: Saturday for Thursday; Tuesday for Friday and Wednesday for Saturday. Post time will remain at 12:30pm for the additional race days. Freehold Raceway is the nation's oldest and fastest daytime half mile harness racing track.
When I was first elected as a United States Trotting Association (USTA) membership director in 1998, I thought that it was important to advance the interests of harness racing horsemen in every way possible. Electronic Eligibility was just the first of many helpful programs we were able to achieve. Yet, believe it or not, something as obviously essential as going paperless was met with much criticism and resistance. From that initial experience, I learned that very little USTA. business gets accomplished quickly; and rarely in unanimous fashion. As with any large, industry-wide association, there are competing interests. 2/3s of our Board is made up of membership, or horsemen, directors, and 1/3 are track directors. Even within these groupings, on many issues there are smaller factions that see things differently than others. Of course, the voicing of varied opinions is a good thing. When a different viewpoint on a subject is expressed, it allows for directors to pause and think about a matter in a light that they might not have previously considered. Unfortunately though, much never gets to the pause and think stage with 61 directors, because many decisions affecting members are being made at an executive level. Rather than the product of full and open deliberation, these pronouncements are decided behind closed doors by a handful of individuals who often look at things in lockstep fashion. Worse still, their edicts are often completely inconsistent, and smack of an attitude of pure track bias. For those of you who may not be aware, your Association executives in Columbus, Ohio have recently denied the membership application of a veteran horseman who maintains racing licenses in multiple U.S. jurisdictions, as well as in Canada. The reason for the denial? Well, you’ll just have to guess, because his refusal notice doesn’t even state why he was refused. Strangely for me, if numerous Racing Commissions deem him to have the requisite character and fitness to compete in pari-mutuel harness racing, why would our USTA exclude him? One could only guess that he violated some rule of our Association. Or is it really our Association? And what was the rule violation? Compare this to the longstanding state of affairs with a track member, Saratoga Raceway, who was in open and notorious violation of USTA rules. Those rules that we voted on and passed mandate that tracks maintain minimum medical insurance for drivers equal to the average daily purse account raced for during the previous calendar year. At Saratoga, the minimum medical coverage should have been in the six-figure range. Yet, for several years, Saratoga had maintained only a paltry $5,000 coverage for its drivers; a blatant violation of the U.S.T.A own rules. Despite being out of compliance for several years, the USTA. would not revoke the track’s membership. Because the USTA refused to act against the track member who was in violation of the USTA rule, the horsemen were forced to make concessions to the track to up that insurance Nice deal for a track, but a lousy one for horsemen members who found themselves left in the lurch because the USTA would not enforce a rule against a track member. Some directors rightly call the USTA the United States Track Association. So, while denying membership to horsemen for no explicit reason, the executives in Columbus flatly refused to revoke the track membership of Saratoga Raceway, despite its clear and undeniable violation of an important Association rule. This type of prejudice towards horsemen and favoritism towards racetracks is not simply unjust; it’s downright dangerous. Think about the tragic incident involving Anthony Coletta last November. Think about the drivers injured as a result of the starting gate skid at Freehold Raceway in January. Medical insurance isn’t important until, of course, you desperately need it. I am damn mad about the dual treatment of a clearly wrongdoing track member of the USTA and the risk to horsemen racing there, while the USTA turned its back on such violation for years but continues to penalize horsemen who have licenses in many states. Is the USTA carrying water for track operators who want the industry to think that they have integrity at their place and no one else does, while their "proof”, or the lack of it, is not sufficient for a state to suspend a horsemen's credential in that state? What additional exposure does the USTA have when, God forbid, a horrible accident befalls a horseman at a track with less than the minimum insurance because the USTA has not enforced its own rule? It may be an increase in your dues that pays for this failure when their lawyers come seeking recourse. This ‘tale of two cities’ has to stop. As a horsemen’s director, along with others, our top priority right now is to change how the decision making process at the U.S.T.A. works. When a state licenses a member, unless the state suspends him he/ she should have full membership in the USTA. When he violates a state rule he should suffer a loss of our USTA credential. The USTA is wasting a lot of time, effort and money in an area that clearly belongs to state licensing agencies. Enough is enough. Let's stop having track operators use their influence at the USTA to make villains out of licensed horsemen. Respectfully, JOHN BRENNAN John Brennan is chairman of USTA District 12. A native of Rockaway Beach, N.Y., Brennan finished school in 1968 and worked as a steamfitter for four years before he began his career in harness racing in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. He has been training horses for more than 30 years, racing stables in New York and New Jersey. He won the 1995 Merrie Annabelle with Missy Will Do It. Was previously part-owner and trainer of Sugar Trader, winner of the 2003 Yonkers Trot and runner-up in the 2003 Hambletonian. He has been on the board of the SBOA of NY for more than 20 years, an HHI delegate for more than 15 years, and a USTA director for 13 years. He is currently the horsemen's representative at Yonkers Raceway. To discuss further go to harnessracingforum or leave a comment below. Editor's Note: HARNESSLINK website is pleased to present appropriate viewpoints and opinions from around the Harness Racing industry. The views contained in these “op-ed” pieces are that of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of HARNESSLINK.
MANALAPAN, NJ - February 18, 2014 - The Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey and Freehold Raceway have agreed to the addition of three Mondays - February 24, March 3 and March 10 - to the Freehold live racing schedule to make up for some of the cards lost to snowstorms this winter. Further decisions, regarding two additional canceled dates, will be addressed in the near future. Details for the draw schedule for the three Mondays will be forthcoming. by Carol Hodes, for SBOANJ
Freehold, NJ – Freehold Raceway will offer a special 10 race card of live harness racing action on Presidents’ Day, Monday afternoon, February 17. All patrons purchasing a Freehold live program will receive a free knit cap (while supplies last). In addition, 50 cent hot dogs and 50 cent sodas will be offered. Post time for the first race is 12:30pm. Freehold Raceway is the nation's oldest and fastest daytime half mile harness racing track. Submitted by Freehold Raceway Publicity Department
Freehold, NJ - Freehold Raceway announced that live racing scheduled for Saturday, February 15 had been cancelled due to weather conditions. Live racing is scheduled to resume on Monday, Presidents' Day with first race post set for 12:30pm. Freehold Raceway is the nation's oldest and fastest daytime half mile harness racing track. From Freehold Raceway Publicity Office
Freehold, NJ - Freehold Raceway announced that live racing scheduled for Friday, February 14 had been cancelled due to weather conditions. Live racing is scheduled to resume on Saturday with first race post set for 12:30pm. Freehold Raceway is the nation's oldest and fastest daytime half mile harness racing track. From Freehold Raceway publicity department
East Rutherford, NJ - Due to the winter storm and treacherous travel conditions, racing at The Meadowlands has been cancelled for tonight. Please make note that the entire racing card, including the first round of Charles Singer Memorial will be carried over to next Thursday, February 20th. Therefore, if your horse was entered to race tonight at The Meadowlands, he or she is now in to go at The Meadowlands Thursday, February 20th. With the cancellation, the first round of the Charles Singer Memorial trotting series will be pushed back to Thursday, February 20th. The second round will now take place on Thursday, February 27th with the Final on Saturday, March 8th. In addition, both The Meadowlands and Winners Bayonne are closed for simulcasting today as well. At present, both facilities are scheduled to re-open Friday at 11:00 A.M., with live racing at The Meadowlands scheduled to resume on Friday at 7:15 P.M. Monticello, NY -- Already with over a foot of snow on the ground and a forecast of 12-18 inches more tomorrow, Monticello Raceway has cancelled its Thursday (Feb. 13) racing program.Along with racing, simulcast wagering is also cancelled. Live racing will resume on President's Day, Monday, February 17 with first post slated at 12:25PM. Freehold, NJ – Freehold Raceway announced that live racing scheduled for Thursday, February 13 had been cancelled due to weather conditions. Conditions permitting, live racing will resume on Friday with first race post set for 12:30pm. YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, February 12, 2014—Stop us if you’ve heard this one before…Yonkers Raceway has cancelled its live racing program and all simulcasting for tomorrow (Thursday, Feb. 13), due to another impending snowstorm in the greater New York area. Live racing (and afternoon/evening simulcasting) is scheduled to resume Friday (Feb. 14), with the usual 7:10 PM first post. Horsemen are advised that there is no draw tomorrow (Wednesday). A double-draw for Tuesday and Thursday (Feb. 18 and 20) shall be conducted Friday (Feb. 14), with the entry box closing at 4 PM. For more information, please contact the race office at (914) 457-2627.
Freehold, NJ --- Freehold Raceway is looking for a full time announcer. All inquiries to Director of Racing Karen Fagliarone at email@example.com.
Longtime New Jersey harness horseman Edward Louis Morris, 75, of Jackson, NJ passed away at his home on February 1, 2014. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, he moved to Jackson, NJ in 1959. Ed Morris was a driver, trainer and breeder of Standardbred race horses for 40 years, until his retirement two years ago. He competed mainly in the New Jersey Sire Stakes program at the Meadowlands Racetrack, Freehold Raceway and on the New Jersey Fair Circuit. He was a member of Harmony Lodge #18 Masonic Temple, Toms River since 1961. He led a very active lifestyle and enjoyed the outdoors. He served in the Air Force at Barksdale AFB in Louisiana. His hobbies include model railroads, bicycling and kayaking. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Ludy Morris; two sons, Ed Morris and his wife Jeanne of Manchester, NJ and Lou Morris of Zelienople, PA.; four grandchildren Katrina DiMiele and her husband Dominick of Forked River, NJ; Mindy Morris of Forked River, NJ; Colin and Myles Morris of Zelienople, PA.; three great-grandsons Gaetano and Matteo DiMiele and soon to be born Donato DiMiele. The family received friends and relatives Thursday, February 6, 2014 from 2-4 p.m. at DeGraff Lakehurst Funeral Home, 119 Union Avenue, Lakehurst, NJ. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in his memory to the charity of your choice . With files from the Asbury Park Press
MANALAPAN, NJ - February 5, 2014 - February 15, 2014 is the deadline for three-year-old payments for this year's Charles Smith and Helen Smith Trots as well as membership renewals for the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey. Those who belonged to the SBOANJ in 2013 must renew their membership by February 15 to receive full coverage in 2014. The $60,000 estimated Charles Smith for three-year-old New Jersey-sired trotters is scheduled to take place on September 12 while the filly companion event, the $50,000 Helen Smith, is on September 5, both at Freehold Raceway. The sustaining fee is $200. The Smiths are both sponsored by the SBOANJ. For further information, contact the SBOANJ at 732-462-2357 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. by Carol Hodes for SBOANJ
Pompano Beach, FL --- The staff at Harnesslink is proud to congratulate our director of North American Operations, Steve Wolf, who was recently elected into the Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame. He will be inducted into the Communicators Corner at the 23rd annual Hall of Fame awards dinner on Friday, March 7, 2014 at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, Deerfield Beach. The event is held by the Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association. Wolf, a resident of Coral Springs with his wife, Stephanie and sons Philip and Ryan, has been employed with Harnesslink for the past ten months. He has been a contributing writer to Harnesslink since the website first started in 2003. The Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame recognizes special individuals who have been outstanding leaders within the industry for more than ten years and who have contributed to the betterment of the Standardbred Industry. Wolf most certainly fills those categories to the brim. He first came to Florida as the Director of Marketing for the Isle Pompano Park and over the years rose to the rank of Senior Director of Racing Operations. He ran the many great promotions at the track including driver tournaments, unique claiming series races, special family nights and most of all he is responsible for finding and bringing to the United States from Australia, the great Vincent Silvestro and his amazing horse, Hand Me Silver. Silvestro performed the world’s only horse racing fireworks stunt show called Hot To Trot and he appeared for eight straight years at Pompano Park, amazing crowds as he stood on the shafts of his race bike, held the reins in his teeth and set off more than 2,000 rounds of fireworks all while Hand Me Silver raced around the dark track. Wolf has always been involved in community service in the Pompano Beach area since he first arrived. He served on the board of directors of the Greater Pompano Beach Chamber of Commerce for ten years and was Chairman of the Board from 2009-2010. He is a co-founder and has been the president of Pompano Has Heart, a disaster relief program in the city and was also a trustee of the Harness Horse Youth Foundation for 22 years. Prior to coming to Florida, Wolf was the director of marketing and publicity at Freehold Raceway and assistant director of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey. Also being inducted into the Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame are two longtime driver/trainers Lucien Fontaine and Mark O’Mara. There are also three horses being inducted. They are I’d Like To Win, Six Of Diamonds and Tweedle Dum. Tickets are $75 per person for the full course dinner that begins at 6:00 pm with a one-hour open bar with appetizers. Tables of ten are available. For more information, to purchase tickets, or place a congratulatory ad in the program book, please contact Rosie Huff at the Florida Standardbred Breeders Office at 954-972-5400.
FREEHOLD, NJ -- January 31, 2014 - The Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association and the horsemen who compete at Freehold Raceway gathered in the winner's circle on Friday, January 31, 2014 to salute outrider Beth Cumberland. After the fourth race on the card, Cumberland was presented with a plaque which read: "Thank you for your exemplary horsemanship on January 10, 2014." Joining her for the presentation were SBOANJ Executive Administrator Leo McNamara and nearly two dozen trainers and drivers. Cumberland has been the outrider at Freehold Raceway since 1999. A former jockey, she also serves as an exercise rider for the stable of thoroughbred trainer Alan Goldberg, based in Colts Neck, NJ. On a daily basis, Cumberland leads post parades and assists drivers with their horses who might not want to go to the gate or turn properly. But every once in a while she and her horse, Jazz, are put to the test by a miscue on the track, as was the case of the multi-horse accident on January 10. "Beth is someone who does her job so well that she often doesn't get acknowledged for the role she plays in the safety of our horsemen," said SBOANJ President Tom Luchento. "We thought we'd take this opportunity to honor her for both her day-to-day work ethic and her extraordinary job of rounding up loose horses after the accident earlier this month." Freehold Raceway will also honor Cumberland for her 15 years of service at the Standardbred Pleasure Horse Organization of New Jersey's awards banquet on February 9, 2014 at the Holiday Inn in East Windsor, NJ. "Having an outrider of Beth's caliber out on the track is extremely comforting to me as both the director of racing and a harness racing fan," Karen Fagliarone said. "We are extremely lucky and grateful to have her here at Freehold. She is without a doubt one of the best in the business." Cumberland, 46, is from Manchester, NJ and is the mother of 28-year-old Shawna Nicole. She started galloping horses in 1988, rode her first race at the Meadowland in 1989 and picked up her first victory as a jockey in 1990 at Garden State Park. Her career stats include 78 wins, 88 seconds and 109 thirds from 997 starts for earnings of $523,664. Riding spills, broken bones and concussions took their toll, and she decided to hang up her tack, working at various track jobs, including ponying horses and filling in as outrider at Philadelphia Park [now Parx]. In 1999, she was asked to work the summer meet as the outrider at Freehold and never left. While she is still exercising thoroughbreds for Alan Goldberg in the spring, summer and fall, she has filled in the gap in her schedule the last two winters, jogging and training trotters and pacers for Steve Smith and Karen Garland. Cumberland's mount, Jazz, is a striking chestnut thoroughbred with white stockings and blaze, who retired as a racehorse when he was four after some success on the turf. "I thought he was a show horse prospect," explained Cumberland. "But then I realized he was great at outriding and maybe a bit too hot for showing. He's very agile and can reach full speed in three or four steps." by Carol Hodes for the SBOANJ
The February 15 deadline for New Jersey Sire Stakes first sustaining payments is the last chance for owners of NJ-sired two-year-old and three-year-old pacers and trotters to be kept eligible to the 2014 Premier and Green Acres racing programs. The NJSS Premier Division will be contested exclusively again at The Meadowlands in 2014 starting in May for three-year-olds and in late June for two-year-olds. The Green Acres Division begins August 28 at Freehold Raceway. Once again this year, the NJSS rule is that the Green Acres Program is limited to horses that have earned less than $25,000 in New Jersey Sire Stakes Premier Division earnings during the current calendar year. The NJSS Premier Division's first sustaining payment remains $300 for both two-year-olds and three-year-olds. The initial Green Acres Division payment remains $100 for both two- and three-year-olds. Also on February 15, a $650 supplemental 2013 yearling nomination (for foals of 2012) can be made for eligibility to the New Jersey Sire Stakes. That fee is in addition to the sustaining payments for two-year-olds also due on February 15. If the foal is produced by an out-of-state breeding, the supplemental fee is $850. The two-year-old sustaining payment must be made in order to keep the horse eligible as a three-year-old in 2014, even if the horse does not race in 2014 as a two-year-old. Supplemental yearling nominations are also due February 15 for the NJSS-sponsored 2013 Lou Babic Open Pace ($500) and Babic Filly Pace ($400). These payments must be in U. S. funds. No late payments will be accepted and no billing notices will be mailed. Certified mail is strongly recommended to NJSS, P.O. Box 330, Trenton, NJ 08625. For further information: Christopher Castens (609) 292-8830 Submitted by the New Jersey Sire Stakes
Freehold, NJ---Freehold Raceway will honor outrider Beth Cumberland for 15 years of outstanding service to the track at the Standardbred Pleasure Horse Organization of New Jersey's annual awards banquet. The banquet will be held February 9 at the Holiday Inn in East Windsor, NJ. Cumberland's quick thinking and skill in the saddle, as well as her trusty mount Jazz, have kept Freehold's horses and drivers safe and the races running smoothly. Freehold Raceway's Director of Racing Karen Fagliarone was quick to offer her praise. "Having an outrider of Beth's caliber out on the track is extremely comforting to me as both the Director of Racing and a harness racing fan," Fagliarone said. "We are extremely lucky and grateful to have her here at Freehold. She is without a doubt one of the best in the business." In addition to her work at Freehold Raceway, Cumberland also works for Thoroughbred trainer Alan Goldberg exercising and caring for horses at his Colts Neck, NJ base. She cared for the multiple Grade I winning turf mare Laughing (Ire). The ill-fated bay captured four consecutive graded stakes and participated in the GI Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf last year. Cumberland's previous career was as a jockey and she was the leading apprentice in the 1990's, having ridden her first race over the Meadowlands turf course. Beth has a 28-year-old daughter Shawn who is currently employed by UPS. Freehold Raceway is the nation's oldest and fastest daytime half mile harness racing track. Submitted by Freehold Raceway
Trenton, NJ --- Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer, R-Ocean, Burlington, Middlesex and Monmouth, that allows permitholders (racetrack operators) to enter into agreements with their respective horsemen associations, such as the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association for harness racing and with the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, was signed into law by Gov. Christie on Tuesday (Jan. 21). Under the new law (A-3489), the runners will jointly decide how to utilize a portion of their racing purses in order to promote the racing industry. The approval concurs with Gov. Christie’s recommendations and affects racing at both the New Meadowlands and Monmouth Park. The New Jersey Racing Commission is required to approve all the contractual agreements between the parties. “Racetrack permitholders, the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association and the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association have a shared interest in ensuring the success of horse racing in New Jersey,” said Dancer, who has sponsored many pieces of bipartisan legislation designed to help make horse racing sustainable in the state. “This bill provides an opportunity to preserve and enhance the sport of horse racing and will lead to greater fan interest and wagering. The contractual requirement that stipulates all sides must agree as to the means of how this goal will be achieved, along with the oversight by the racing commission, are important components of the bill.” The amount of the racing purses, which is specified by statute, would not be affected. Also, any agreement would not be permitted to reduce the statutorily dedicated funds for programs designed to aid the horsemen and the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association or for the administration of a health benefits program for the horsemen. “We are in a new era of horse racing in New Jersey. We are fortunate to have creative and talented private sector business people who love racing and believe it is viable in our state,” continued Dancer. “Giving them the flexibility to combine their skills in order to promote this sport is a sound strategy.” Dancer’s legislation is also sponsored by Assemblymen John Burzichelli and Ralph Caputo. The identical Senate bill, S-2540, received unanimous approval in June. From the New Jersey Assembly Republican Press Office