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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - It was another big Saturday night at the Meadowlands, as for the third time this year, harness racing wagering surpassed the magic $3 million mark at the industry's handle leader. Betting was consistent throughout the 12-race card, with only one race failing to reach the $200,000 mark. The third race saw the biggest pool of the night, $319,684, while the eighth was a close second, at $318,041. The total handle for the card was $3,036,706, which works out to an average of $253,058 per race. The other two $3 million nights came on March 3, when betting was a 2018-high $3.45 million, and on March 24, when $3.08 million was pushed through the windows. BURKE THE BIG MAN: Ron Burke was the big man on campus for the night, training four winners on the program, including two victories in pacing series action. Burke's Windsong Leo was the recipient of a perfect pocket trip from driver Jim Marohn Jr. on the way to taking the first leg of the Whata Baron for horses and geldings who are non-winners of six races. The 6-year-old gelded son of Jereme's Jet won by three-quarters of a length over Barimah A, completed the mile in a lifetime-best 1:50.2 and paid $5.00 to win as the public choice. Betterhaveanother ($4.80 as the second choice) scored for Burke in the second division of the first leg of the Burning Point for fillies and mares (also NW of 6) with Brett Miller at the controls. The 6-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight held off 6-5 favorite Valuable Art by a head in 1:51.3. Apple Bottom Jeans ($5.20 as the second choice) took the opening division of the Burning Point with Delaware regular Victor Kirby driving. The 5-year-old daughter of Mr Apples, trained by Kevin Switzer, was 2½ lengths clear of Stormtracker at the finish in a lifetime-best equaling 1:50.3. Even-money choice Windsun Glory was fourth. A LITTLE MORE: When Rockinwiththebest scored in the third race at odds of 33-1, the stage was set for a giant 50-Cent Pick-5 payoff. The bet spans races 3 through 7, and when the dust cleared, those holding winning tickets walked away with a cool $21,359.40. ... Leading driver Marohn and Andrew McCarthy both drove three winners on the card. ... Racing resumes at the Big M Friday at 7:15 p.m. Stuckey & Murphy Qualify for the $75,000 World Harness Handicapping Championship The last two qualifying spots for the $75,000 World Harness Handicapping Championship were awarded to Lee Stuckey of Newark, NJ and John Murphy of East Lyme, CT in Saturday’s Last Chance Qualifier.  The format required players to place a minimum of 5 $10 Win wagers on Meadowlands races.  64 players have already qualified for the WHHC Final through the Meadowlands, and partner outlets: Vernon Downs, Tioga Downs, TROT Fantasy, Buffalo Raceway. The World Harness Handicapping Championship presented by is scheduled for Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment and has a guaranteed prize pool of $75,000.  The WHHC is a one-day tournament, with a welcome reception the evening prior.  Players that did not earn a seat through a qualifying event can directly buy-in for $1,000.  The WHHC contest format requires players to bet 10 races: their choice of seven Meadowlands races, plus three designated mandatory races from Buffalo, Vernon Downs and the Meadowlands.  Players keep all pari-mutuel winnings.  Prize payouts are to the Top 10. Players interested in purchasing a buy-in into the World Harness Handicapping Championship presented by can visit By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The king has regained his crown. The hard-hitting Western Joe reigned supreme once again at the Meadowlands, winning the Saturday night harness racing feature - the $20,000 Preferred Handicap for pacers - for a fifth time in eight tries this year. The 4-year-old son of Western Ideal scored some revenge over arch-rival Bettor's Edge, who gunned down Western Joe at the wire when the pair squared off last week. This time around, things started out pretty much the same way as they did that night. Western Joe went right to the top. Bettor's Edge, the back. Western Joe cut out fractions of :27.1, :56.3 and 1:24.3 (middle half of :57.2) while Bettor's Edge set sail after the leader from last in the six-horse field, following the cover of Statham N, down the backside. As they straightened away with three-sixteenths to go, Western Joe had plenty left in the tank, but so did Bettor's Edge, who tipped off his cover and was closing ground while pacing his final quarter in :25.2. But Western Joe had more than enough to keep his foe at bay, winning by three-quarters of a length in 1:50.1. Bettor's Edge was second, giving him seven on-the-board finishes in nine starts in the Preferred ranks. The pocket-sitting Durant finished third. "I still think my horse gets a little lonely on the lead," said winning trainer Chris Choate. "But you can't always race covered up, so the front end was the place to be. If you can get a head start on Bettor's Edge, it's a good thing, because he raced huge tonight." Western Joe paid $3.00 to win as the 1-2 public choice and was driven by Jim Marohn Jr. for owner Anthony Ruggeri. He's now won six of nine this year and 15 of 38 overall, good for a lifetime bankroll of $231,548. A LITTLE MORE: The 20-Cent Survivor Pick-10 pool was extremely popular as wagering reached a 2018-high $24,145. When the dust cleared, one lucky bettor wagering into the Twin Spires hub was the only ticket holder to survive six legs, and they cashed in for $20,522. ... Leading driver Marohn and Andrew McCarthy each had three winners on the card. Victor Kirby had two, giving him five victories over the last two Saturdays. ... All-source wagering totaled $2,454,142. ... The Late 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five failed to result in a single-ticket winner, bloating the carryover to $172,812. ... Racing resumes at the Big M Friday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The action on the Meadowlands' signature Pick-4 wager remains strong, as during March the total pool has averaged $84,593 through the first five harness racing programs of the month. The bet, which has a 50-cent base and low 15 percent takeout, can reward favorites players and those who like value alike. On March 9, no public choices won during the sequence, leading to a payoff of $4,131, while on March 17, three chalks and a 3-1 chance combined to create a winning payout of $76.65. Free program pages for the Pick-4 (Races 8 through 11), courtesy of Track Master, are available on the Meadowlands' website ( and on the handicapping section at The Pick-5 (Races 3 through 7) has seen total action of at least $47,475 on four occasions during the month, and on March 9, even though favorites won the final three legs of the bet, the return was a hefty $4,429. CRAZY CARRYOVER: The carryover for the Late 20-Cent Jackpot Super High Five, which will be offered on Race 11 Friday, is now at an industry-high $148,306. For one to rake the pot, the bet requires he or she be the only ticket holder with the winning combination. NEW POST TIME: Effective Friday, post time at the Meadowlands moves back to the traditional 7:15 p.m. 3-POINTERS AND TRIFECTAS: Catch all of college basketball's "March Madness" in the Big M's Victory sports bar on its massive HDTVs. See action from now until the Final Four wraps up with the championship game on April 2, except Sundays, when Victory is closed. During the tournament, Victory will offer beer specials, plus you can enter the MRE Sports Challenge for free and take a swing at the $6,500 Grand Prize. DERBY PREP SATURDAY: My Boy Jack is the 5-2 morning-line favorite for Saturday afternoon's Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, a major Kentucky Derby prep. The race will be the 11th of 14 on a program that will be part of the Big M's extensive simulcast menu. TVG LAST CHANCE: This Saturday, TVG will hold a last-chance qualifying event as part of the World Harness Handicapping Championship. The event requires players to make ten $10 win and place wagers on any races from the Meadowlands, Woodbine and Yonkers. The contest is open to all TVG, 4NJBets and PABets customers. New customers can sign up for an account by visiting The contest will award one spot to the $75,000 WHHC, the largest tournament in the industry, on April 28 at the Meadowlands. NTRA QUALIFIER: The Meadowlands will provide horseplayers with one of their first opportunities to qualify for the 2019 NTRA National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) with a qualifying event on Saturday. For complete tournament information and details, visit Meadowlands Media Relations    

MANALAPAN, NJ -- March 10 , 2018 -- The SBOANJ is proud to announce the award-winning lineup of New Jersey harness racing stallions for 2018. Three world champion trotting stallions - Muscle Hill, Trixton, and Walner. In addition, four pacing stallions - Great Vintage, Lis Mara, Santa Fe Beachboy and Sunfire Blue Chip. Muscle Hill is the 2009 “Horse of the Year” and 2017’s leading money-winning trotting sire.  He has sired 7 millionaire trotters from his first five crops.  He led all trotting sires in average price at both the 2017 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale and at Harrisburg.  He also sired the sale toppers at both sales, $480,000 and $320,000, respectively.  The son of Muscles Yankee with lifetime earnings exceeding $3 million stands at Southwind Farms in Pennington, NJ for a private treaty stud fee. Trixton, sired by Muscle Hill, is the winner of the 2014 Hambletonian, Goodtimes, Simcoe, Reynolds and NJSS Final bringing his earnings to $947,057.  Trixton’s first crop of foals will race this season.  He continues to stand at Deo Volente Farms in Flemington, NJ  for a 2018 stud fee of $12,000. Walner, the 2016 Dan Patch two-year-old trotting colt of the year, with a record of nine wins in 10 starts and a lifetime mark of 1:50.2. Walner was the 2016 Breeders Crown Champion and has earnings of $567,652.  The son of Chapter Seven debuts his stallion career at Southwind Farms with a stud fee of $20,000. On the pacing side, Great Vintage is one of the fastest and richest sons of leading sire American Ideal.  He has bankrolled over $1.1 million in lifetime earnings and holds a mark of 1:49.1.  Great Vintage stands at Walnridge Farm in Cream Ridge, NJ for a stud fee of $2,000. Lis Mara’s 1:47.3 Breeders Crown win in 2006 makes him the fastest and richest son of champion sire Cambest.  Lis Mara previously stood in Ontario but has been in New Jersey since 2015.  His total foal earnings currently exceed $12 million.  He stands at Deo Volente Farms for a stud fee of $2,500. Santa Fe Beachboy comes to New Jersey after a racing career that includes earnings over $500,000 and a lifetime mark of 1:49.1.  The son of world champion Somebeachsomewhere stands at Walnridge Farm for a stud fee of $2,000. Sunfire Blue Chip, the son of American Ideal, defeated some of the toughest competition throughout his racing career to gain a mark of 1:48.3 and $1.2 million in earnings.  During his three-year-old campaign he won the $450,000 Adios, defeating the likes of Vegas Vacation. Sunfire Blue Chip will stand at Walnridge Farm with a $3,000 stud fee. Owners that breed their mares to any of the above-mentioned pacing stallions will be eligible to receive a 50% paid stud fee rebate (up to $1,250).  Visit for details on the 2018 pacing stallion rebate program. For New Jersey breeding information or pacing stallion rebate program guidelines please contact the SBOANJ office. Courtney Stafford

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands is offering a slate of Late Closers for 3-year-olds of each gait and sex with the following conditions:   N/W of 2 Extended P.M. Races Lifetime or $25,000 Lifetime W/O $75,000 Lifetime are Ineligible (State Bred Wins for $10,000 or Less First Money Not Considered on Wins)   The "State Bred" clause should allow those 3-year-olds that won PA Stallion or NY Excel series legs to be eligible for these races.   They get underway on the weekend of May 11-12 with $12,500 legs and the $45,000 estimated finals are all scheduled for Saturday, May 26.   The nomination fee is $500, there is no entry fee and the closing date is March 15.   Call the Racing Office at (201) 842-5130 with any questions.     Nick Salvi

Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment & Winners Bayonne OTW are closed for simulcasting today, Wednesday, March 7 due to the impending winter storm. Both will reopen tomorrow at 11 am with normal simcluasting operations. Live racing returns to the Meadowlands on Friday with a 13 race card beginning at 6:35pm. For the most up to date information regarding simulcasting and racing visit Rachel Ryan

Two more spots are up for grabs this Saturday in Meadowlands Harness Racing & Entertainment's $200 March Qualifier. The qualifier has a $200 total fee ($100 entry plus a $100 real-money bankroll). The format requires players to bet a minimum of $10 Win, Place, Show or WPS wagers on exactly 10 Meadowlands races. Players can register on-site Saturday up until 7 pm. In last Saturday's $400 Qualifier at the Meadowlands, Frank Palmer, Dan Fusco, Dustin Carlson and Miroslaw Kiczko won spots into the Final on April 28. A complete list of online WHHC Qualifiers can be found at The World Harness Handicapping Championship presented by Final is scheduled for Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment and has a guaranteed prize pool of $75,000. For more information on how to become a WHHC partner outlet or sponsor, contact Rachel Ryan, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment ( or 201-842-5015.   River Horse Featured at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment A river horse is coming to Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment Saturday, March 17 in the form of River Horse Brewing Company, one of NJ’s craft breweries.  River Horse Brewing is the featured at the 5-course $49.95 Meadowlands Beer Dinner. Executive Chef Dennis Sammarone has paired each River Horse beer with fantastic food, sure to tantalize the taste buds. 1st course: Hummus, Greek Olives, Feta, hot pretzel with mustard, sea salt with cheese fondue paired with River Horse Roly Poly Pils 2nd course: Chili con Carne with cornbread, sour cream, scallions and cheddar cheese paired with River Horse Special American Amber Ale 3rd course: Boston Cod & Chips – crispy battered fish & chips with coleslaw and tartar sauce paired with River Horse Tripel Horse 4th course: BBQ Baby Back Ribs with macaroni and cheese paired with River Horse IPA 5th course: Belgium Chocolate Cake with fresh Raspberry Cream Paired with River Horse Chocolate Porter In addition to the delicious fare and brews, guests will enjoy live harness racing beginning at 6:35 pm For reservations call 201-The-BigM.   Rachel Ryan Marketing Manager, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment                       This e-mail, including any attachments, may contain information that is confidential, and is transmitted for the sole use of the intended recipient. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any use, dissemination, copying or retention of this e-mail or the information contained herein is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please immediately notify the sender by telephone or reply e-mail, and permanently delete this e-mail from your computer system. The views presented in this message are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the opinion of New Meadowlands Racetrack and Winners OTW. New Meadowlands Racetrack and Winners OTW do not guarantee the integrity, security or proper receipt of this message. Likewise, New Meadowlands Racetrack and Winners OTW do not accept any liability whatsoever for any possible damages arising from, or in connection with, data interception, software viruses or manipulation by third parties.   Disclaimer The information contained in this communication from the sender is confidential. It is intended solely for use by the recipient and others authorized to receive it. If you are not the recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution or taking action in relation of the contents of this information is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful.

Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, located in East Rutherford, NJ, is a state of the art venue with unlimited Mitzvah possibilities, all of which will be on display at the Meadowlands Mitzvah Showcase on Sunday, March 11 from 12 noon to 4pm. The showcase is free for pre-registered guests and provides families the ideal opportunity to taste, explore and network for their upcoming mitzvah. People can register at Admission for non-registered guests is $10 at the door. Attendees can sample delicious selections from our very own gourmet chefs and browse our custom catering options. In addition, the showcase provides the perfect opportunity to connect with preferred vendor partners who provide emcees and DJs to photo booths, party favors, décor and much more! Guests can also spend the afternoon exploring the multiple event spaces that are sure to make your mitzvah exceptional! Victory Sports Bar & Club provides a vibrant atmosphere to host your reception for up to 300 guests and features over 20 HD plasma screens that are fully customizable. Cocktail hours come to life in the lounge, a creatively decorated area which features custom furniture and chandeliers or Victory Terrace, a beautiful outdoor rooftop bar that boasts views of the NYC skyline. Both can accommodate up to 500 guests. "Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment is a spectacular venue that is so much more than horse racing," says Andrea Lokshin, Vice President of Sales and Marketing. "We are a true destination with endless possibilities to host your mitzvah or any special event. Our unique space will allow you to break through the clutter from the traditional catering hall and offer your guests an experience that is different from all the others. Once you tour our venue, you won't want to go anywhere else." For more information on Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment's Mitzvah Showcase and event spaces, visit  

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands rebounds from the disappointment of Friday's weather-induced cancellation of live racing with a 13 race card tonight.   The Pick 5 carry over of $30,000 complete with the guaranteed pool of $125,000 will be offered on Saturday's races 3-7.   The racing feature is the seventh race $20,000 Preferred where the winter meet's top pacer thus far, Western Joe, takes on six rivals led by Dr J Hanover who is making his seasonal bow.   Western Joe has taken the class twice consecutively and won 4 of his 5 2018 starts for the owner/trainer combo of Anthony Ruggeri and Chris Choate. Pat Berry has been the pilot for the past pair, including last week's score in a snappy 1:50 flat.   Dr J Hanover had a solid 4-year-old campaign highlighted by his all time Canadian record of 1:46.4. He's had pair of good qualifiers in anticipation of this start and a season filled with stakes engagements. Tony Alagna trains Dr J for Brad Grant, Robert LeBlanc, Steve Wienick and Irv Samelman and Brett Miller is listed to drive.   Another World Harness Handicapping Contest qualifier will be offered on Saturday with four to advance to the April 28 final.   Post time is 6:35 pm.   Nick Salvi      

Due to the winter storm and high winds, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment has cancelled live racing for Friday, March 2. The Meadowlands and Winners Bayonne OTW remain open for day and night simulcasting. Live racing resumes tomorrow Saturday, March 3 with 6:35pm first post. The $30,202 Pick 5 carryover with a $125,000 guarantee will kick off tomorrow with race 3. Past performances for the Pick 5 (races 3-7), $50,000 Pick 4 (races 8-11) and the Race 13 Jackpot Super High 5 with a $120,134 carryover are available at   Rachel Ryan

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - College basketball fans know what March Madness is. But what is "Carryover Craziness"? That's the phrase one might use for what the faithful at the Meadowlands will experience Friday night (Post time, 6:35 p.m.). For only the second time this year, the Pick-5 (Races 3 through 7) wasn't hit in its most recent offering, which will lead to a carryover of $30,202 heading into Friday night, when the 'payoff' leg of the wager will be shown on 'Meadowlands Harness Live' on SNY (SportsNet New York) at 9 p.m. "The last time we had a carryover in the Pick-5, it was $28,786," said Jason Settlemoir, the track's chief operating officer and general manager. "We then wagered $224,986 in new money for a total pool of over $250,000. That's why we are once again offering a guaranteed pool of $125,000, in partnership with the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering, in the hopes of creating another giant pot for our fans, who love to go for the big score." On that Jan. 12 card, there were many winning tickets as three favorites won during the sequence, yet the payoff for a 50-cent wager was still a hefty $2,820. The start of the Pick-5 (Race 3) has a post time of 7:25 p.m. In addition to the final Pick-5 leg, the first two legs (Races 8 and 9) of the track's signature wager, the 50-Cent Pick-4 - which sports a $50,000 guarantee and low 15 percent takeout - will also be seen on the live broadcast, hosted by Dave Brower, along with Dave Little, Bob "Hollywood" Heyden and track announcer Ken Warkentin. Post time for the eighth race is 9:22 p.m. Free program pages for the Pick-5 and Pick-4, courtesy of Track Master, are available on the Meadowlands' website ( and on the handicapping section at WANNA WIN $100G? The 13th race 20-Cent Jackpot Super High Five has a carryover of $120,134, which means something extremely simple: If there is one winning ticket, that player will collect well over $100,000 for a 20-cent wager. SUPER SATURDAY They'll be plenty going on at the Big M on Saturday (Post time, 6:35 p.m.) as well, with big action expected in different forms. Based on last week's wagering, one can expect to shoot for some big pools. Last Saturday's total handle was $2,719,591, which averages out to $209,199 per race, the fourth time this year the track has reached the $200,000 per race plateau. The action was especially big in Race 8 when a total of $317,113 was wagered, with the Pick-4 pool raking in $94,699, the Exacta $83,471 and Trifecta $68,065. Also on the Saturday schedule is the World Harness Handicapping Challenge, presented by The WHHC Qualifier, which was canceled after three races due to the Feb. 17 snow storm, made it necessary for Big M management to reschedule the Super Qualifier for Saturday (March 3). Four seats for the WHHC Championship Qualifier are up for grabs. The qualifier has a $400 total fee ($200 to enter plus $200 in a real-money bankroll) and has a format that requires players to bet a minimum of $20 Win, Place, Show or WPS wagers on 10 Meadowlands races. Players can register on-site Saturday up until 7:15 p.m. Other WHHC Saturday events of note include an online qualifier hosted by TVG/4NJBets. The contest includes three seats into the WHHC Final (plus travel expenses). Also on tap is a qualifier that will take place at Tioga Downs (Nichols, NY). The WHHC Championship Final is slated for Saturday, April 28 at the Meadowlands and has a guaranteed prize pool of $75,000. For more information on how to become a WHHC partner outlet or sponsor, contact the Big M's Rachel Ryan at or201-842-5015.   Dave Little

East Rutherford, NJ - The nominations are in for the 2018 Meadowlands Grand Circuit Stakes and the February payment totals are up by 9% over the 2017 numbers.   The major pacing stakes, WR Haughton and Sam McKee Memorials swelled by nearly 30% with 33 horses making the nomination payment for both. The Stanley Dancer for sophomore colt trotters and Mistletoe Shalee also increased by a third.   All of the freshman stakes saw solid increases in totals for the new season.   "It's an encouraging sign to see the owners and trainers show support for Meadowlands stakes," said Meadowlands President & CEO Jeff Gural. "Out Of Competition Testing will be expanded this year as part of our efforts to provide a level playing field at The Meadowlands."   Also of note, all three Spring Late Closers for older horses, the Whata Baron, Burning Point and Shiaway St Pat have filled and will begin the first week of April.   Complete lists on the nominees are now available on the Meadowlands website.   Questions should be directed to Peter Koch in the Racing Office at (201) 842-5130.       Nick Salvi  

Owners of mares in foal that are based in New Jersey are reminded that the deadline to register a mare for the 2018 foaling season to the Standardbred Development Fund is February 28. The registration fee is $100 and the mare registration forms are available on the New Jersey Sire Stakes All checks should be made payable to the New Jersey Sire Stakes and mailed to New Jersey Sire Stakes, P.O. Box 330, Trenton, NJ 08625. Registered mail is encouraged to be certain that the envelope is postmarked no later than February 28. Any questions or requests for further information can be directed to Chris Castens, NJSS Executive Director at 609-292-8830 or to  

MANALAPAN, NJ — February 6, 2018 — Don’t miss these Feb 15th sustaining payments. New Jersey Sire Stakes - 2 & 3 Year Olds •  Premier Division sustaining payment in the amount of $300.00 •  Standardbred Development Fund sustaining payment in the amount of $100.00 The February 15th payment must be made in order to maintain eligibility. For more information and payment forms visit the New Jersey Sire Stakes website at or call (609) 292-8830. SBOANJ Sponsored Stakes - 3 Year Old Trotters •  Charles Smith sustaining payment in the amount of $200.00 •  Helen Smith sustaining payment in the amount of $200.00 The Charles Smith and Helen Smith Trots will be contested at Freehold Raceway in September. For more information and payment forms visit the SBOANJ’s website at or call (732) 462-2357. Courtney Stafford  

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Last week's sub-zero wind chills forced the cancellation of harness racing at the Meadowlands, but with forecasts calling for temperatures in the 50s, the Big M returns this Friday night offering some opportunities to hit big on the 14-race card. That's when bettors will have a guaranteed pool of $125,000 to shoot for in the track's Pick 5 wager, which gets underway in Race 3. The bet requires a player to correctly select the winners of Races 3 through 7 and has a base wager of 50 cents. The conclusion of the Pick 5 when the track last raced on the final Saturday of 2017 resulted in a carryover of $28,786, which served as the catalyst for the Big M - in partnership with United States Trotting Association Strategic Wagering - to offer the huge pool promise. Program pages for all Pick 5 races, as well as the $50,000 guaranteed Pick 4 (3 through 11) will be available on the wagering tab at, courtesy of Track Master. Live racing at the Meadowlands takes place every Friday and Saturday evening and has a first race post time of 6:35 p.m. Meadowlands Media Relations  

Trenton, NJ --- The sound of a 2006 Chevy Malibu can be heard roaring along the drive and, suddenly, a bevy of cats emerge from seemingly everywhere to greet the driver. It’s meal time for the felines at harness racing's training center Gaitway Farm in New Jersey. The vehicle’s passengers are Marion Sumpf and Liz Horvath, both known for their work as caretakers, who have been guardian angels for feral cats at the farm for the past eight years, as well as the now defunct Showplace Farms. Marion has retired recently and Liz is on disability. The two are currently feeding 28 cats that have either been dumped off or just appeared at the farm. Rather than take them to a shelter, where they would perish if not adopted, they look out for them. Since ferals do not get along with humans, most of the cats hide in the trees and brush at the end of the back barn. But they wait for the humming of that specific engine.   USTA/Ken Weingartner photo Marion Sumpf and Liz Horvath have been guardian angels for feral cats at Gaitway Farm for the past eight years. “It’s amazing, they know the sound of my car and they all come running like a herd of elephants,” Sumpf said. “It’s pretty cool. “They learn to know who feeds them. It’s not me that they like. There’s a few I can pick up and pet, but the majority are pretty scared. They’ll come when the food is down but as soon as you try to pet them or something, they’re gone. They come right back when I back off. They’re associated with the sound of this car. ‘Oh, here comes the food person, it’s time to eat, let’s rock.’ They come from every corner.” But as much as they like the food, most don’t care to show thanks. “You’re not going to grab them and play with them,” said Sumpf, who worked as a groom at Ron Burke’s stable before retiring. “We may have a few like that, but the majority you can’t pet them and carry on or you’re liable to have cut marks.” Sumpf and Horvath don’t do it to be loved. They do it because they feel it’s the right thing to keep these animals alive and healthy. Part of that is to make sure they don’t multiply and, over the years, have paid out of their own pockets to have them neutered and spayed. Fortunately, they have had help. A few years ago Gaitway paid to have a dozen fixed. Trainers and grooms at the farm have supplied food; remnants of grocery store rotisserie chickens are a favorite with the feline set. Several grooms and trainers on the farm have donated money; Dr. Patty Hogan ran a youth clinic at her clinic and in lieu of tuition, each attendee was asked to bring cat food that was donated to the cause; and an equine veterinarian who requests anonymity helps out by neutering male cats free of charge. But with so many animals, ranging from kittens on up, a big financial burden still falls on Sumpf and Horvath, who refuse to let the cats suffer or perish. “We’ve been doing it just because somebody needs to do it,” Sumpf said. “There’s always the people that say, ‘Phooey on them, just drown them or whatever.’ That’s just normal, sadly. But they don’t go a day without getting fed. They get canned food and dry cat food every day.” While at Showplace, the farm manager kept tabs on the cats and would let the women know whenever a new one came along. At Gaitway it has been more of a team effort, which it needed, as the farm was over-run with cats when Sumpf and Horvath arrived. They managed to track them and get them fixed to put a hold on reproduction; but cats still show up out of nowhere. “A lot of the grooms and some of the trainers will let us know if there’s a cat we don’t recognize that has appeared,” said Sumpf, who has four of the cats from Showplace living with her. While traps are their preferred method of capture, both Horvath and Sumpf have had to resort to netting cats that refuse to come out of barn rafters. “We’ll round them up and get them fixed,” she says. “Sometimes they’ll help us pay for it. What happens is, if you don’t get a handle on it, you can have one female have four or five litters a year. If you multiply that and they have five kittens, that’s a lot of cats. “A lot of it has been our money. Gaitway did help us fix a bunch, and different clinics have helped us. But we still have to take them to people, pay the gas and tolls, pay for the food.” One would think Sumpf would wish to find homes for all the cats to defer her costs; and she has indeed given some away to folks who want them for their farms. But Marion would rather a person’s first choice be to adopt from a shelter, which euthanizes animals if they do not find homes for them after a certain amount of time. “We ourselves will not take any to be euthanized,” Sumpf said. “There are so many in shelters that are so inexpensive, I would almost rather them go there if they want to adopt one. It’s not that I’m against them adopting from us, but I feel so bad when I look online how many get killed at shelters every year. It drives me nuts.” Sumpf noted there are several groups in the Millstone, N.J. area -- where she lives -- that do this sort of thing. “We’re not trying to make an occupation out of this,” she said. “There are just so many of them, it’s just sad. People should just do the right thing; they’d really put a kink in it. At least try to keep them from having more, that’s the whole thing. “I just think it’s a necessity. If we don’t do it, who’s going to? We’ll keep doing it for as long as we’re around here.” Anyone wishing to donate funding for spaying and neutering as needed, cat food or gift cards to Tractor Supply, Petco, or any store selling cat food, to this worthy cause can do so by emailing Sumpf and Horvath at by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

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