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Middletown, NY --- Goshen Standardbred Horse Sales has announced that their 2021 harness racing yearling sale will be held on Monday (Sept. 13) at 12 noon at the Mark Ford Training Center in Middletown, NY. That is the Monday after the New York Sire Stake finals which will be held at Yonkers Raceway on Friday (Sept. 10). The deadline for all consignments is Monday (June 15). "Given our close proximity to Yonkers, we felt this sale date worked best for owners and trainers competing there to easily attend, as many will be in the area that weekend," said Mark Ford. "We look forward to a more normal sale this year, but are ready to deal with any situation." The 2020 sale had to operate under the constraints of a global pandemic, but with many on-site enhancements and new remote bidding options, still experienced a very successful session. The difficult set of circumstances last year actually produced systems that will better suit GYS's customers for years to come. "We partnered with Cattle In Motion for the first time last year for online bidding and video services and that couldn't have gone better. They were very efficient, very professional and they made the entire sale better than it has ever been. I believe this was the first Standardbred sale to take online bids and I felt it went very smoothly considering it's never been done before," said Ford. "And it was also the first year for the Flippingbook version of our catalog which is particularly formatted for cell phone and tablet use. We received a lot of positive feedback about both of these improvements after last year's sale and look forward to bringing them both back in 2021." This promises to be a deep and quality sale, anchored by a tremendous consignment from sale regulars Cameo Hills Farm, Winbak Farm, Blue Chip Farm, Vieux Carre Farm and the Silver Tradition Stable, who will be bringing an enhanced consignment this year. GYS is also welcoming a consignment from Millstream Farm, who will be joining the sale this year. "With the improving Covid climate across the state, our hope is to operate as normally as possible this year. However we are ready to make accommodations for anything that may arise and will ensure a healthy and safe environment in which to purchase your next stake winner," Ford concluded. Since 2015, the Goshen Yearling Sale has brought quality New York-bred stock to the sales arena from the industry's top breeders and have seen a host high speed, quality stake winners hit the track as a result. The sale has grown exponentially in both size and popularity each year and has become a favorite yearling venue for both the buyer and consignor. The sales facility is located at 90 Slaughter Road, Middletown, NY, which is within a ninety-minute drive of many major race tracks and training centers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, making it a very convenient location. And it's also only three miles away from the Harness Racing Museum and the Goshen Historic Track. For any other inquiries please contact Mark Ford directly at 973-568-3253 (cell) or by email at fordstable@frontiernet.net . By Tim Bojarski, for Goshen Standardbred Horse Sales

MANALAPAN, NJ -- November 17, 2020 -- On Monday (Nov. 16) Executive Administrator Al Ochsner hosted the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey's annual meeting along with President Mark Ford and the board of directors. For the first time ever, the meeting was held virtually online, and streamed live on Facebook. The meeting opened with messages from President Mark Ford and Executive Administrator Al Ochsner. Mark Ford mentioned that the SBOANJ is now a member of the newly formed North American Harness Horse Alliance. They both thanked the SBOANJ staff, all those involved with the Rutgers Risk Management Plan to enable racing to resume, the tracks and training centers that hosted dozens of qualifiers, and those who have reached out to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic. Al Ochsner addressed the cancellation of the Golf Outing which is the main source of revenue for TrotPAC the SBOANJ's Political Action Committee. He thanked all those members that helped continue fundraising capabilities to support legislators. That support along with the completion of the 2019 NJ Horse Racing Impact Study that was sent to all state legislators really made a difference in the state approving the appropriation funding for 2021. He also applauded Sam Landy's son Harry for making a great and informative video of the Standardbred business, in an effort to bring attention to the need for the appropriation funding. The SBOANJ has been working since 2016 to reduce the driver workmen's compensation insurance premium at both races tracks. Finally, NJRC established the Standardbred premium to be based on the number of claims and the money associated with them. For many years the Standardbreds had low claims or none at all but had to share a much higher premium with the thoroughbreds. In 2020, because of the adjustment and cash reserve available no money was needed to pay the cost of insurance. Plus there is a cash reserve to carry forward. Plans have been made with Freehold Raceway to have two memorial races for the Fusco family and Harold Kelly in December and January. The SBOANJ and BCAP presented four scholarships to SBOANJ member's children totaling $9,000. The 2021 racing dates were announced, the Meadowlands will race 90 dates and Freehold Raceway will race 82 dates. The Breeding Committee reported that the breeding industry in NJ has shown gains for the third year in a row. There were 279 mares bred in 2017 and 780 bred in 2020. The Insurance Committee reported another year without an increase to the insurance premiums for the fourteenth year in a row. The Finance and Pension Committee is very pleased with the investment policies at this time and continues to review UBS performances. They reported the investments to be good relative to benchmarks, especially during these uncertain times. by Courtney Stafford, for the SBOANJ

MANALAPAN, NJ -- September 29, 2020 -- The Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey (SBOANJ) applauds the New Jersey Legislature for passing the Fiscal Year 2021 budget which includes a $15 million appropriation to help support the New Jersey horse racing industry, particularly as we recover from the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, the Legislature passed critical legislation which annually appropriates $20 million in purse money for five years. The tourism and racing industry, along with the rest of the state, was forced to close and reduce operations due to the pandemic beginning in March. Fortunately, with the help of the Legislature and the Governor's support in the FY21 budget, the industry will be able to more immediately and effectively recover. "We are grateful for the commitment to horseracing demonstrated by elected leaders at the highest levels of State Government to provide this vital appropriation in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget," said Mark Ford, President of the SBOANJ. "We want to thank Governor Murphy, Senate President Sweeney, Speaker Coughlin and Budget Committee Chairs, Assemblywoman Pintor Marin and Senator Sarlo, for acknowledging the importance of the purse appropriation. SBOANJ is thankful for their leadership on this issue. Beyond making NJ a competitive state with surrounding states' purse appropriations, the money this year will be especially impactful for the state's economic recovery." The industry and horse farms not only aid and protect the preservation of open space in New Jersey, they support an entire agribusiness of hay producers, straw producers, grain producers, trainers, grooms, veterinarians, equine dentists, and blacksmiths. If the horse racing industry fails, these support businesses stop production and contribution to the New Jersey economy as well. This budget shows the state's commitment to the thousands of workers employed throughout the industry. SBOANJ remains committed to working alongside the Legislature and the Murphy administration to encourage the preservation and growth of the horse racing industry and its prestigious rank among American pastimes. by Courtney Stafford, for the SBOANJ  

Middletown, NY --- The Goshen Yearling Sale was held at the Mark Ford Training Center on Monday (Sept. 14) and despite year-long challenges the harness racing industry has faced due to all the Covid restrictions, a brisk host of buyers nearly matched the average price per horse realized from last year's record sale. "I didn't know what to expect this year due to the pandemic, but I was very pleased with the way it all worked out," said Mark Ford. "We took fewer horses this year due to social distancing but the quality was there and the prices proved that. There was strong bidding all day and a good amount was purchased in the $30,000 range. At the end of the day I think we had a lot of happy buyers." The 86 yearlings that went across the block commanded an average price of $14,767 versus $14,964 in 2019 with the total gross for the sale just under $1.3 million. 32 pacing colts averaged $15,750 each, 28 pacing fillies averaged $13,464 each, 12 trotting colts averaged $16,292 each and 14 trotting fillies brought an average of $13,821 each. Once again, Cameo Hills Farm was the top consignor with the highest average sale price for their 13-horse consignment ($24,462) that included the sales topper. That was pacing colt (Hip 32) Yes Indeed (Huntsville-Please Me Please) who was purchased for $46,000 by Erv Miller. They also sold pacing colt (Hip 27) Just Mercy (Huntsville-Pardon) purchased by Jim DeArmond for $36,000, trotting colt (Hip 26) Harvey Two Face (Chapter Seven-New Sensation) who was sold to Steve Pratt for $30,000 and pacing colt (Hip 84) El Pistolero (Huntsville-Discoverer) who went to Robert Sholes, also for $30,000. Winbak Farm's 37 yearlings were headed by trotting filly (Hip 35) Bak A Winner (Credit Winner-Roberta's Fantasy) who brought $28,000 from John Ball. They also sold pacing filly (Hip 78) Clear The Way (Bolt The Duer-Clara) for $24,000 to John Como Jr. Blue Chip Farm's top money-getter from their 5-head consignment was the pacing colt (Hip 21) Faith In Joe (Roll With Joe-Blind Faith) who was purchased by Paul O'Mara for $22,000. "I can't say enough about the good people at Cattle In Motion, who ran the online bidding and video," Ford continued. "They were phenomenal; the best in their business. They were very efficient, very professional and they made the entire sale better than it has ever been. I believe this was the first Standardbred sale to take online bids and I felt it went very smoothly considering it's never been done before. We look forward to working with them much more in the future." About $200,000 of the total sales came from online bidding, which is a very solid number given the first time it's been offered. Plus all the early feedback from those who used the new format was very positive. You can view the complete sales results in a searchable database by clicking this link. (www.goshenyearlingsale.com/results). By Tim Bojarski, for the Goshen Yearling Sale

Hightstown, NJ — Mark Ford was a guest on the ESPN “In the Gate” podcast produced and hosted by Barry Abrams. Ford discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on harness racing, particularly the deaths of John Brennan and four members of the Fusco family, including trainers Carmine and Vincent. Ford, a trainer with more than 3,900 wins, is on the U.S. Trotting Association Board of Directors and president of the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey. He was a close friend of Brennan and the Fuscos and shared his thoughts about their passing as a result of COVID-19. Followed are excerpted comments, edited for clarity and length, from the podcast. Ford said he talked with Brennan in the hospital the day before his passing on March 10. Brennan also was a USTA director and on the board of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York. He was the horsemen’s representative at Yonkers Raceway. “It really put things into perspective and it really shook me up because he was such a dear friend,” Ford said. “He was such a dear friend to the industry, too. John was always there to fight for the horsemen. He was not only a real good friend, but a really, really good guy. We’ll certainly miss him. “He didn’t have a big family, he didn’t have any kids, but he spent a lot of time with the horsemen and more or less adopted a lot of their kids. He had lots and lots of friends around. “When I first came to New York, he was one of the first people that you met on the backstretch. He always had, not a big stable, but 10 or 12 (horses) all the time and was always there. He was just a good guy and it’s a terrible shock.” Ford said the passing of Carmine Fusco as well as Vincent, their mother Grace and sister Rita, was a devasting blow for a family that was almost synonymous with Freehold, N.J. “You can’t imagine Freehold, N.J., without the Fusco family,” Ford said. “It’s one thing to lose a member of their family, they’re very tight-knit … (but) now, you lose Carmine and his mother and sister and it just keeps going. Vinny was another one. They’re New Jersey horse people that have been around forever, you don’t ever expect them to be anywhere else. “You look around, it’s hard to believe that Carmine Fusco is not going to be here anymore, or five or six of the people we deal with, literally on a daily basis, aren’t going to be here anymore. It’s just devastating. “How do you understand this? It wipes out a big part of your population and they’re all good friends too. Personally, it’s been a terrible week. Life must go on, but it’s not going to be near as easy as it was.” He added about the impact to the harness racing community, “This has happened so fast. I know that it’s been two weeks now since it’s happened, but people are walking around in a daze. It’s just rocked our whole world. It’s one thing to cancel the racing, where none of us have any income, but this is real. “With this stuff, it could be one of us tomorrow. People I’m sure didn’t take this very seriously at all, or maybe they’re still not taking it seriously enough, but these are things we have to deal with. This is a tremendously big deal because it could be anyone of us tomorrow or the next day. It’s serious stuff and I don’t think we’ve seen the end of it yet.” To listen to the “In the Gate” podcast in its entirety, click here. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager  

Middletown, NY---The 2020 Goshen Yearling Sale will be held on Sunday (Sept. 13) at the Mark Ford Training Center in Middletown, NY. This is a real sweet spot for the harness racing sale this year as it's slotted between the Yonkers International Trot and New York Sire Stakes finals at Yonkers Raceway which will be contested on Saturday (Sept. 12) and the New York Sire Stake consolations which will go at Monticello Raceway on Monday (Sept. 14). With the sale being conveniently located between those two events, owners and trainers competing will have the opportunity to easily schedule and attend this sale. Since 2015, the Goshen Yearling Sale has brought quality New York bred stock to the ring from the industry's top breeders including Hanover Shoe Farms, Cameo Hills Farm, Winbak Farm and Blue Chip Farm. Horses like Hickfromfrenchlick (So Surreal-My Girl's A Star 1:48.4, $638,677), Aflame Hanover (Russell Hanover-Applique Hanover 1:49.1 $336,796), Groovy Joe (Roll With Joe-Chotat Milk 1:52 $230,845) and Cigars And Port (So Surreal-Sweet On Art 1:54 $192,351) are all alumni of this sale along with a host of other high speed, quality stake winners. The Goshen Yearling Sale has grown each year in both size and popularity and has become a favorite venue for both the buyer and consignor. And 2019 was its best year yet as attendance and sale records were set across the board. "We're coming off a banner year and are planning on outdoing ourselves once again in 2020," said Mark Ford, on behalf of the Goshen Yearling Sale. "We have plans to enhance our already user-friendly amenities both on-site and online to make it even easier for our clients to just concentrate on the yearlings they want and buy them. We can't wait for September." One important deadline to keep in mind concerning this year's event is Monday (June 1), as that is the final day for all consignments to be made for the sale. The sales facility is located at 90 Slaughter Road, Middletown, NY, which is within a ninety-minute drive of many major race tracks and training centers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, making it a very convenient location. It's also only eight miles away from the Harness Racing Museum and the Goshen Historic Track, making it easy to visit those historic places during your weekend. Everything you need to know about the 2020 Goshen Yearling Sale is available on their website at www.goshenyearlingsale.com where consignment forms, a catalog request portal and hotel information for local lodging all can be found. For any other inquiries please contact Mark Ford directly at 973-568-3253 (cell) or by email at fordstable@frontiernet.net . By Tim Bojarski, for Goshen Standardbred Horse Sales

FREEHOLD, NJ - November 16, 2019 - The Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey's annual board of director's meeting and election was held on Friday (Nov 15) at Freehold Raceway. The board would like to thank all those who attended and their input. The committee summary reports were given by the board of directors. Tom Pontone reported that the Pension Funds continue to benefit from the change of investment managers. Both the Pension Fund and Insurance Fund have a positive gain of over 10%. Mark Ford reported that racing days in New Jersey are still in negotiations however, he is hopeful that 2020 race dates will be similar or better than 2019 dates. Al Ochsner reported that the Benevolent Fund continues to assist many members and horsemen with special needs and health issues. Mike Klau reported that breeding in New Jersey is on the rise and is projecting that 1,000 mares will be bred in 2020, the most since 2008. Insurance committee chairman Anthony Romano announced that there should not be any changes to the current insurance program or increased premiums for 2020. However, coverage and benefits will be reviewed to keep up with rising prescription costs. Anthony Perretti expressed the importance of maintaining the relationships that TrotPAC has built with legislators that helped passed the appropriations bill. Perretti stated that "now is a crucial time for our industry we must stay proactive with legislators to continue to receive the appropriations that we were awarded." The board of directors election results were announced; Mike Klau and Mark Mullen were each re-elected in the breeder category as they ran unopposed. by Courtney Stafford, for the SBOANJ  

TRENTON, NJ -- February 14, 2019 -- The Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey (SBOANJ) thanks Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature for passing and signing into law an essential measure to propel New Jersey's horse racing and breeding industry. The $100 million over 5 years will be used for horse racing purse allocations and greatly increase the participation in this thriving industry in the Garden State. "The SBOANJ is grateful for the tremendous support the horse racing and breeding industry has received from the State and the continuous effort to ensure that the many careers and businesses created through the industry are protected," said Mark Ford, President of the SBOANJ. "The New Jersey Legislature and Governor Murphy have made it a priority to create a sound and reasonable appropriation in an effort to bring tremendous economic development to NJ," Ford added. "For these reasons, we thank the Sponsors and the Governor for their leadership on this issue. This measure guarantees New Jersey's position in the industry in order to compete with the surrounding states." The horse racing industry and breeding farms not only aid and protect the preservation of open space in New Jersey, they heavily support the agribusiness and ensure thousands of jobs around the state. The new law will encourage growth in these businesses and throughout the State's economy. The SBOANJ would like to express its gratitude for the remarkable work accomplished through our advocacy efforts. The relentless work of the Association in conjunction with the valiant efforts of the State will pay dividends for the horse racing and breeding industry and the economy as a whole, allowing us to continue to provide compelling purses that will undoubtedly attract unparalleled competitors back to the state. The SBOANJ is also appreciative of the support shown by their longstanding partners  the Meadowland Racetrack, Freehold Raceway, the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen Association and the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association of New Jersey. by Courtney Stafford, for the SBOANJ

Middletown, NY--- Goshen Standardbred Horse Sales has announced that the 2019 Goshen Yearling Sale will be held on Sunday (Sept. 8) at the Mark Ford Training Center in Middletown, NY. The date marks the fifth anniversary of the sale that has grown into the pre-eminent harness racing outlet for buying New York bred trotters and pacers within the Empire State. The Goshen Yearling Sale has annually offered high quality stock from top breeders that include Hanover Shoe Farms, Winbak Farm, Blue Chip Farm, Concord Stud, Cameo Hills Farm and Boxwood Farm and has presented well-bred yearlings that are eligible to the lucrative New York Sire Stakes program each year. The sale has grown into the state's preferred Standarbreds yearling venue for both the buyer and consignor. "We are excited to announce this year's date and to get things rolling towards another great sale" said Mark Ford, President of the Goshen Standardbred Horse Sales Co. "Last year's sale was a great success and many of the horses purchased there will be making their raceway debuts only a few months from now in preparation for stakes season." Some notable stakes-winning alumni of the Goshen Yearling Sale from the last two years include Clear Idea (American Ideal-Glass Maker 1:50.4, $463,546), Scuola Hanover (A Rocknroll Dance-So Artsi 1:50.4, $234,558), Natalie Hanover (Chapter Seven-Nanticoke Hanover 1:54.1, $189,305), Rootin Tootin (Roll With Joe-Wild Retreat 1:51.2, $185,287), Venier Hanover (Well Said-Valmctorian 1:53.3, $154,300), Shes A Billionair (Artiscape-She's Game 1:54.3, $145,618), Ostro Hanover (Betterthancheddar-Ozmopolitan 1:52.1, $134,156), Teasin N Pleasin (Cr Excalibur-Brontease 1:58, $121,745), Box Of Luck (Lucky Chucky-New DVD 1:56h, $105,625) and Major Blake (Art Major-Bet Your Life 1:51.4, $84,408). The sales facility is located at 90 Slaughter Road, Middletown, NY, which is within a ninety-minute drive of many major race tracks and training centers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, making it a very convenient location to buy your next champion. All information regarding the fifth annual Goshen Yearling Sale will be available at www.goshenyearlingsale.com when it becomes available. For any other inquiries please contact Mark Ford directly at 973-568-3253 (cell) or by email at fordstable@frontiernet.net . By Tim Bojarski, for Goshen Standardbred Horse Sales  

TRENTON, NJ -- January 31, 2019 -- The Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey (SBOANJ) applauds the New Jersey Legislature for passing critical legislation to help support New Jersey's horse racing and breeding industry. S2992/A4810 will allocate $100 million over 5 years to be used for horse racing purse allocations. "We are grateful for the commitment to our industry demonstrated by Senators Gopal, Sarlo, Oroho and Assemblymembers Burzichelli, Hougtaling, Downey and Dancer by ushering this bill through the Legislature," said Mark Ford, President of the SBOANJ. "Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Coughlin took the time to understand the challenging position our industry is in and made this a priority. The SBOANJ is thankful for their leadership on this issue. This funding will start to even the playing field for the New Jersey horse racing and breeding industry and help us to compete with the surrounding states which have very lucrative incentive programs" The industry and horse racing and breeding farms not only aid and protect the preservation of open space in New Jersey, they heavily support the agribusiness and ensure thousands of jobs around the state. Without stimulation from the horse racing and breeding industry, these support businesses stop production and contributing to the New Jersey economy as well. This legislation will help to prevent this from happening in New Jersey. The SBOANJ is proud of the strides taken by our advocacy efforts. The relentless work of the Association will pay dividends for the horse racing and breeding industry and the State of New Jersey, enabling the horse industry to continue to grow and provide top of the line purses that will undoubtedly attract unparalleled competitors back to the state. The SBOANJ is also appreciative of the support shown by their longstanding partners  the Meadowland Racetrack, Freehold Raceway, the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen Association and the Thoroughbred Breeders Association of New Jersey. The Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey (SBOANJ) was established in 1961. The membership is comprised of horse breeders, drivers, trainers, owners, and backstretch personnel, active and interested in the standardbred horse industry in the State of New Jersey. Its mission is to support and promote the standardbred industry in New Jersey by nurturing and preserving a favorable business climate, while striving to secure closer business and personal relationships among all industry participants throughout the State. by Courtney Stafford, for the SBOANJ

MANALAPAN, NJ -- October 11, 2018 -- The following message is from Mark Ford, President of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey.  "Contrary to our ongoing dialogue with the Meadowlands, we were not given any notice and were as much surprised as anyone to read their release indicating that they were putting in for a 68 day meet with a significant reduction of added-money events. We found this particularly disappointing in that we have been working very hard with various legislators and did feel that we had made progress in getting some assistance from the state. That said, a 68 day meet at the Meadowlands in 2019, which does violate their contract with the SBOA regarding a minimum amount of days, is clearly unacceptable and we will address that immediately." by Courtney Stafford, for the SBOANJ   

Middletown, NY --- More than 1,000 prospective buyers gathered at the Mark Ford Training Center on Sunday (Sept. 9) to examine, evaluate and purchase the 116 available standardbred prospects up for sale at the fourth annual Goshen Yearling Sale. Many of these stake eligible horses will be competing in Sire Stake programs in New York and Pennsylvania next year and the crowd reflected many connections from those racing jurisdictions. The total gross of the sale was just under $1.5 million with 66 colts and 50 fillies selling for an average price of $12,912. The sales topper was trotting colt (Hip 117) Unpaid Advisor (Chapter Seven-Pole Dancer) who was bred and consigned by Boxwood Farm. The successful $50,000 bid was made by Charles Colbrunn of Longwood, Florida. The highest priced pacer was the filly (Hip 20) Eye Popping (So Surreal-Paramelons Hanover) who was bred and consigned by Steve Jone's Cameo Hills Farm. The gavel dropped at $45,000 that was bid by Scott Di Domenico of Jamesburg, New Jersey. The top seller from the 25-horse Hanover Shoe Farm consignment was trotting filly (Hip 58) Demimonde Hanover (Sebastian K-Daddy's Lhasa) who went for $36,000 to Mark Ford of Campbell Hall, New York. This was the first yearling from the first crop of Sebastian K available for sale. Winbak Farm was well represented with 38 yearlings and sold the third highest priced prospect overall in the sale. Trotting colt (Hip 50) Bronze Yankee (Muscles Yankee-Brontease) brought $42,000 from Blake MacIntosh of Cambridge, Ontario. Macintosh was also the successful bidder of Twinbrook Farm's top seller (Hip 37) Twin B Salsa (Art Major-Western Heat). The pacing filly commanded $26,000 when the bidding ceased. Blue Chip Farm's top money-getter from their 11 head consignment was the trotting filly (Hip 104) Really Blue Chip (Credit Winner-Muscles Secret) who was purchased by Anthony MacDonald of Guelph, Ontario for $31,000. "We had a beautiful day for this sale and it reflected in everyone's attitude as a large crowd of enthusiastic buyers were keeping our spotters busy all day," said Mark Ford, President of the Goshen Standardbred Horse Sales Co. "The only hiccup that occurred was our internet service provider's lack of reliable service on Sunday that killed our live stream and delayed the posting of results; something that was totally out of our control." You can view the complete sales results in a searchable database by clicking this link. (http://goshenyearlingsale.com/results/index.cgi?Limit=200 ) By Tim Bojarski, for the Goshen Yearling Sale  

Above statement made by Mark Ford, President of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey. MANALAPAN, NJ -- September 7, 2018 -- There was a time in New Jersey when the best of the best came to compete at Freehold Raceway on Labor Day. It was not long ago, but seemed a distant memory Monday when the track was closed because of a lack of entries. In an announcement regarding the decision to close on Labor Day, Freehold General Manager Howard Bruno said, “Overall, it is increasingly difficult for us to compete in a market where we have the lowest purse structure in the region.” The statement is not hyperbole, it is fact. For more than a decade, New Jersey’s racing industry has suffered while horsemen in neighboring states have enjoyed increased purses thanks to casino-enhanced funding. Monday’s closure of Freehold illustrates the erosion of New Jersey’s standing in sport – once the envy of the industry — and the seriousness of the situation. A year ago, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle ran a story titled “How VLTs saved NY horse racing.” According to the story, New York’s seven harness racing tracks saw purses escalate from $35 million to $118 million since 2003. The average purse per race went from about $4,000 to $11,000 over the 14 years — putting New York among the top five in the nation.  “The figures have been extraordinary at some tracks: Batavia Downs’ purses grew from $1.8 million to $5.5 million; from $4 million to $18 million at Saratoga harness; and from $20 million to nearly $63 million at Yonkers,” the story stated. The average purse per race this past Saturday at Freehold was less than $5,000. Tracks in New York and Pennsylvania could be found offering averages — at a minimum — of 46 percent more than Freehold, up to the $30,000 average Yonkers offered for eight non-stakes races that night. A decade ago on Labor Day, Freehold hosted a card that included the prestigious Cane Pace and other top stakes. Freehold was home to the Cane Pace from 1998 through 2010, when the track gave up hosting the race because of purse-funding issues. It is clear the industry needs to see purses augmented in the absence of racinos and the ability to compete with neighboring states on a level playing field. Without it, the state’s billion-dollar equine industry will likely suffer the loss of thousands of jobs and tens of thousands of acres in open space while the state loses tens of millions of dollars in revenues. State Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, told NJOnlineGambling last week, “The challenges faced by horse racing lead to an erosion of the ancillary [equine] economy — breeding, horse farms, and so on. That warrants our attention, because once a horse farm goes away, it never comes back. Nobody tears down a condo development to build a horse farm.” The Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey implores the state’s legislators to consider the magnitude of any decision regarding the enhancement of purses and preservation of the equine industry in the Garden State. Time is running out. by Courtney Stafford, for the SBOANJ

YONKERS, N.Y. – When the group of 22 French trotters arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport in June, trainer Mark Ford was responsible for picking up six of them and transporting them home. While he was unsure what to expect from the batch of foreign horses, their easy temperaments came as a surprise. “They all just walked right out of quarantine and walked right off the trailer just like they were supposed to,” Ford said. “They’re very docile, well-mannered, and good at traveling. It was a pleasant little surprise. I didn’t expect it would be that good of a bunch.” Although Ford was initially skeptical of the idea behind the French American Trotting Club, which sought to bring a large group of French trotters to the United States to compete in a rich series at Yonkers Raceway, the trainer has been impressed by how the project came together. Ford commended Ron Burke, Ray Schnittker, and Mike Lachance for traveling overseas to select the horses. “You’ve got to do your part. It’s an experiment; everyone should do their part and give it a try,” Ford said. “I was a little surprised at how many decent horses came out of there and maybe they will be good enough to race during the winter time. “I think it’s a great idea. You’re stirring things up and trying to get rid of the same thing day after day after day,” he continued. “It was a lot of work for those guys to go over there in the middle of stakes season to do that and I think we all owe them a thank you. That was no easy task and every one that came over, for the most part, people have been very happy with.” Ford and owners George and Rose Bonomo drew 10-year-old Kaiser Soze son Undici. The veteran was 7-for-105 with $396,611 in earnings when he arrived. While his last win came March 30, 2014 in a 22,000€ overnight going 2,800 meters at Chartres, Undici has had plenty of placings since then, 25 overall in his career.  Ford made several changes to Undici’s equipment to help the trotter adapt to the American style of racing. He added hopples and a pole on the advice of Nicolas Roussel, one of Undici’s former trainers. “I don’t have anything to base it off. I don’t know how he was over there, but (Nicolas Roussel) sent us an email and said if you put the hopples on him, he’d be a lot better. You can’t wear poles over there either, so we put a pole on him. He needed a little bit of time to learn how to wear his rigging,” Ford said. Despite the equipment adjustments, Undici’s gait makes it a challenge to compete on the half-mile track. In four local starts so far, the gelding has two sixth-place finishes, a fifth, and a second. “He’d probably be a little better on a bigger track, but they don’t race on a bigger track at Yonkers,” Ford said. “He’ll touch a knee and bounce off a shin. He’s not real great-gaited and you have to be a little careful with him. He’s not a really big, robust, fast horse, but he’s ok.” Undici has spotted the field at least 11 lengths in all his local starts except for in the first leg of the series August 5. Undici got away fifth from the second tier in that start and moved first-over on heavy favorite Ursis Des Caillons with five-eighths to race. Undici sustained his bid, finishing a clear second to the favorite. The grinding style suits Undici, Ford says. “I think he just sort of plods along and it depends on what the other ones do. He goes one speed and if they come back to him, I think he’ll finish up good,” Ford explained. “I don’t think he’s the kind of horse where, if they walk around there and sprint real fast, he doesn’t have any speed. He just plods along.” Undici’s plodding style could be better-suited to the second leg of the series this Sunday (August 19), which will go 12 furlongs, two more than the $35,000 first leg. Undici drew post three in the first division, which will see him face Ursis Des Caillons, Barry Black, Adagio de la Tour, Very Very Fast, Alpha d’Urzy, Bioness, and Boldie de Nuit. Undici is 12-1 on the morning line with Steve Smith in the sulky. “I’d much rather have been in the other division,” Ford said. “I hate that mile-and-a-half stuff. I don’t think we’ve ever got a check in any of those mile-and-a-half races, but it probably will help him rather than hurt him because he doesn’t get away good and just sort of plods along. It seems like he can go six quarters in 30 seconds.”  Sunday’s card at Yonkers also features a second division of the series and a $44,000 Open Handicap Trot going one-mile. First post time is 12:35 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Melodies Major has been nothing but spectacular thus far in his brief career and he continued to sparkle on Wednesday night (July 18) at Buffalo Raceway by toppling the 2-year-old pacing colt record with a 1:54.2 victory over Jack Nation in the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for the freshman pacers.   Cruising to an easy 3-3/4 length win in his $53,500 division, Melodies Major ($2.10) crushed the old mark of 1:55.4 set in 2013 by He's Watching.   In the other NYSS leg, Bicorne Hanover went gate-to-wire in 1:56.3 and held off Jojo's Place by three-quarters of a length.   But is was Melodies Major (Art Major-Hilarious) who stole the show. Driver Tyler Buter said after the race, "I drove him with two fingers. He's such a pleasure to drive. When I asked him to go, he just went faster."   Getting splits of :28.2, :57.1 and 1:26.0, Melodies Major never was asked for more in the lane as Buter tucked away the whip and enjoyed the view of the Buffalo Raceway home stretch. Despite being in cruise control, he still put up a :28.2 last panel. Jack Nation (Jim Morrill Jr.) took second while Covered Bridge (Mike Simons) nailed the show position.   Melodies Major is a perfect 3-for-3 in his brief career and has two track records now with the first coming at Monticello on July 4 with a 1:54.3 clocking. Owned by Martin Scharf and trained by Mark Ford, Melodies Major has put $80,000 in the bank already in 2018.   Bicorne Hanover (Kevin Cummings) took advantage of the inside draw and wired the field in a solid 1:56.3.   Leaving from the rail, Bicorne Hanover established fractions of :28.3, :58.2 and 1:28.0. Jojo's Place (Jason Bartlett) made a valiant charge at the end but came up three quarters of a length short at the line. Bean (Scott Coulter) took third place.   Co-owned by the Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi, James Martin and William Switala, Bicorne Hanover (Art Major-Boldnbrash Hanover) is trained by Ron Burke. It was the first victory in three starts this season for Bicorne Hanover, now a winner of $44,110 in 2018.   Murrow Boy (Drew Monti) was the fastest in the $15,000 Excelsior A Series races with a 1:55.4 time, returning a healthy $17.00 to his backers. Mark Witha K ($6.20) took the other leg with a 1:59.0 victory for Morrill Jr.   Morrill Jr., who completed the evening with a driving triple, captured the $6,400 Excelsior B event with a 1:58.4 win aboard Baby Maker Hanover ($5.10)   Cummings had a double in the bike while trainer Russell Bratt notched a pair of victories.   Racing will continue on Friday night at 5 p.m. with a nine race program scheduled and the 2018 season will come to a close on Saturday evening at 6 p.m. with a 10-race program set.   For more information including the latest news, upcoming promotions, simulcast schedule, race replays, results and entries, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

MANALAPAN, NJ -- July 16, 2018 -- Mark Ford, the President of the SBOA of NJ, has issued the following statement in response to the attached DRF article regarding the Saturday opening of Sport's Betting at the Meadowlands. "We have had ongoing dialogue with Jeff and the Meadowlands. In one of our more recent meetings, it was clearly understood, and stated by Jeff, that the horseman would participate in sport's betting revenues with details yet to be worked out. It was exciting to see the Fan Duel-Meadowlands opening, coinciding with a night of spectacular racing, and hopefully this is just the start of a new era at the Meadowlands."   DRF Full Article http://www.drf.com/news/sports-wagering-begins-meadowlands   by Courtney Stafford, for the SBOANJ  

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