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MANALAPAN, NJ -- December 17, 2014 - The deadline is approaching for open enrollment for the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey health insurance program for qualified drivers, trainers and grooms who are not currently insured. Eligible participants must be enrolled by December 31, 20143 to qualify for 2015 coverage. Application forms and other information are available on sboanj.com under the Health Insurance link. by Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ

MANALAPAN, NJ - December 12, 2014 - The Breeders Committee of the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey has selected Michael Gulotta's Deo Volente Farms as the 2014 New Jersey Standardbred Breeder of the Year. Deo Volente will be among the honorees at the 58th Annual New Jersey Breeders Awards Luncheon at 1 p.m. on January 25, 2015 at Charley's Other Brother in Eastampton Township, NJ. Deo Volente Farms features state-of-the-art accommodations for stallions, mares and foals. Currently, it is the home to 37 mares, 25 foals and two stallions. The 120 acres of black-fenced paddocks and stabling are located in Franklin Township, NJ. It was the success of a horse named Lis Mara, the 2006 Older Pacer of the Year and earner of more than $2 million, which led to the purchase of the land on Quakertown Road, construction of the farm and the concept of horses supporting a charity which builds homes in Haiti. The newest addition to Deo Volente is 2014 Hambletonian winner Trixton, who will make his debut as a trotting stallion based in New Jersey in 2015. He will share the four-horse stallion barn at Deo Volente with pacer If I Can Dream. In two seasons of racing, Trixton earned $947,057, taking his mark of 1:50.3 in the Hambletonian. Trixton is by a Hambletonian winner - Muscle Hill, whose sire, Muscles Yankee also won harness racing's richest and most prestigious trotting event for three-year-olds. Trixton will stand for a fee of $12,000 in 2015. Deo Volente, which is Latin for "God Willing," is a showcase facility which opened in 2008, featuring a striking stone entrance and bronze statuary of a romping mare and foal. The cream of the broodmare band includes BJs Canouan, Electric Fool, See and Be Seen and Yursa Hanover. Gulotta was co-breeder of 2013 Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year and New Jersey Standardbred of the Year I Luv The Nitelife, who retired with earnings of nearly $2 million. She is out of another Deo Volente broodmare of note, Lisjune. Previous New Jersey Breeder of the Year winners include three-time winner White Birch Farm, two-time winner Perretti Farms, Valley High Stables, Southwind Farms, Kentuckiana Farms, Fair Winds Farm, Walnridge Farm and Heritage Hill Farms. For tickets to the awards luncheon, which are $35 each, contact Kim Tkacs at 609-292-8830. by Carol Hodes, for SBOANJ  

MANALAPAN, NJ - December 2, 2014 - The New Jersey SPCA will visit the Swedesboro, NJ farm where Monica Thors is stabled today. "We wanted to share with the concerned horsemen and public, who are following this case, that we have learned that the NJ SPCA is going to the farm today to evaluate the conditions and conduct a thorough investigation into the horses in her care," said Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey President Tom Luchento. "We expect a resolution soon." By Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ      

MANALAPAN, NJ - December 1, 2014 - The Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey has been consulting with legislators and other officials in Trenton and feels confident that there should be a resolution to the matter of the horses being mistreated at a Swedesboro, NJ farm. "We are aware of the inhumane treatment of Standardbreds owned by Monica Thors, and we have used our contacts in state government to push for actions to remove the horses from her," said SBOANJ President Tom Luchento. "The appropriate agencies in Trenton will be moving forward to rectify this problem. We are shocked and incensed that the mistreatment of these horses has been ongoing and the issues unresolved despite previous interventions by state agencies. "We have reached out to our contacts in state government, and we are adding the pressure we can provide to the voices of many who have spoken out about this shocking incident," Luchento added. "We have been assured that there will be action and a resolution to this shortly." By Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ              

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands is pleased to announce the $1 million Graduate Series, a new initiative designed to provide racing opportunities for four-year-old trotters and pacers in 2015.   While the schedule will not be finalized until the December stakes meetings, the series will offer three legs tentatively beginning in late May with $50,000e legs at Tioga Downs, continue through June at The Meadowlands with the purse increasing to $75,000e then $100,000e for legs two and three. The Graduate Finals will be raced at The Meadowlands in early July with the purse for each gait guaranteed at $250,000.   Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural has been vocal in his advocacy of keeping the equine stars of the sport on the track beyond their sophomore season and spoke on the intent of the series.   "I consider keeping the best horses on the racetrack a priority to generate fan interest in racing. This series will provide what the connections of those horses have indicated a need for, a chance to race against horses of their own age until mid-season, when they will graduate into the open stakes," said Gural. "I appreciate the support of Tommy Luchento, Leo McNamara and the New Jersey horsemen in recognizing the importance of creating races that will appeal to our customers by bringing back recognizable names that hopefully will attract new younger customers while appealing to our regular customer base as well."   Further details on the Graduate Series will be made available as they become final.   From the Meadowlands Media Department

This is a reminder to all horsemen that beginning with the November 14th racing program, any New Jersey Sired horse entered in a race with a condition of non-winners of one, two, three or four pari-mutuel races will race for 60-percent more than the listed purse. The bonus program encompasses both sexes of horse as well as gait. The Meadowlands wanted to issue this reminder prior to the Harrisburg Mixed Sale as there will be lucrative opportunities for New Jersey Sired horses selling at Harrisburg at the upcoming Meadowlands meet. The purse structure will be as follows: Non-winners of one: $10,000 (plus $6,000 for NJ sired horses) Non-winners of two: $12,500 (plus $7,500 for NJ sired horses) Non-winners of three: $15,000 (plus $9,000 for NJ sired horses) Non-winners of four: $17,500 (plus $10,500 for NJ sired horses) In addition, all races with a condition of non-winners of one, two, three or four pari-mutuel races will be written with first preference for all horses that are New Jersey Sired, to ensure that New Jersey sired horses have the most opportunity to compete for this bonus program. Regarding the recent announcement of trainers who have achieved entry into the trainers rewards program, The Meadowlands would like to reiterate that the program does not include races classified B-1 or higher, nor does it include stakes, late closer or early closer events. In addition, the program is limited to the period of November 14, 2014 through February 28, 2015 to ensure our most loyal trainers are able to get their horses raced when The Meadowlands entry box is in its highest demand. The program was designed in conjunction with the SBOANJ with the sole purpose of rewarding those trainers who supported The Meadowlands during the period of time that it proves most difficult to fill the entry box. Any horsemen with questions, comments or concerns should contact either The Meadowlands Race Office or the SBOANJ as any input is valued and appreciated. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands  

In March of this year, The Meadowlands announced that it will begin keeping track of trainer's entries with the purpose of implementing a rewards program which would go into effect on November 14th of this year. In conjunction with the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey, The Meadowlands has identified the following trainers as earning entrance into the Rewards Program. These names are strictly alphabetical as each of these trainers shares equal benefits when entering their horses to race at The Meadowlands. 1. Eric Abbatiello 2. Tony Alagna 3. Ronald Burke 4. Mark Capone 5. Ron Coyne Jr. 6. Jonas Czernyson 7. Nikolas Drennan 8. Steve Elliot 9. Mark Ford 10. Mark Harder 11. Joseph Holloway 12. Richard Johnson 13. Douglas Lewis 14. Joseph Martin 15. Julie Miller 16. Larry Remmen 17. Christopher Ryder 18. Mark Silva 19. Jeffrey Smith 20. Ake Svanstedt 21. Jimmy Takter 22. Linda Toscano The trainers listed above achieved entry in the program by meeting one of two criteria: 1) Accumulating over 60 starts at The Meadowlands from March 28, 2014 through August 2, 2014 or 2) Having at least 20 starts at The Meadowlands from March 28, 2014 through August 2, 2014 where the trainer's horses raced at The Meadowlands more than all other tracks combined over that period of time. "I want to thank The Meadowlands for implementing this program," said SBOANJ President Thomas Luchento. "I am proud of the position they have taken to reward all trainers that remain steadfast in their conviction that The Meadowlands is the best place to race in the world. This program rewards loyalty, and the SBOANJ is a proud supporter of that." "I appreciate the loyalty these trainers have shown to The Meadowlands throughout this past racing season," said Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural. "I am happy that they will be given every opportunity to get all of their horses raced at The Meadowlands when we reopen on November 14th. Hopefully this information will prove beneficial to all the owners and trainers that are heading to Harrisburg for the upcoming Standardbred Mixed Sale." The rewards program will be applied to overnight races that are classified as B-2 or below as well as all non-winners of 1, 2, 3 or 4 pari-mutuel races. The program does not apply to early or late closers, nor does it apply to stakes events. Any horsemen with questions can contact The Meadowlands Race Office or the SBOANJ. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands  

MANALAPAN, NJ - October 21, 2014 - President Tom Luchento and his slate of officers were re-elected to the Board of Directors and Anthony Perretti was selected to fill a vacancy at the monthly meeting of the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey at its Manalapan office on Monday, October 20, 2014. Perretti, a former Board member, returns to fill the vacancy created in the owners' category by the death on October 1 of Robert M. Baggitt, Sr. The re-elected officers include President Thomas F. Luchento, First Vice President Edward Razzetti, Second Vice President Alfred B. Ochsner Jr., Third Vice President Mark Ford, Treasurer Dennis Lane and Secretary Anthony Romano. Also on the Board of Directors are Robert Boni, Dr. Stephen P. Dey, Michael Gulotta, Kelvin Harrison, Jacqueline Ingrassia, Dr. Richard Meirs, Mark Mullen, Paul A. Wojtowicz and the newly added Anthony Perretti. The Board Meeting was preceded by the Annual Membership Meeting. By Carol Hodes for the SBOANJ    

MANALAPAN, NJ - October 16, 2014 - Sumatra made it two straight trips to the winner's circle with a two-length tally in the $25,000 New Jersey Futurity for three-year-old New Jersey-sired trotters on Thursday, October 16, 2014 at Freehold Raceway. The gelded son of Muscles Yankee - Lola Seelster covered the non-wagering mile in 1:57.2 with Brian Sears in the sulky. Angels Ransom [Revenue] was second with Choco Sun [Chocolatier] two and a half lengths back in third. Sumatra, trained by Tom Fanning, now has back-to-back stakes wins, having captured the Old Oaken Bucket at Delaware, OH on September 18. This year's record features three wins, two seconds and two thirds from 13 starts for earnings of nearly $170,000. Lifetime, he has finished in-the-money in 16 of 24 starts, banking $277,339. The $9,000 Harrisburg Sale purchase by Joseph Smith of Vero Beach, FL, was bred by Perretti Farms of Cream Ridge, NJ and Black Horse Racing of Lebanon, NJ. The New Jersey Futurity is sponsored by the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey. By Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ

MANALAPAN, NJ - October 15, 2014 - Margret "Maggi" Romano, a founding member of the Standardbred Pleasure Horse Association, has been selected to receive the 2015 Spirit of the Horse Award from the Rutgers Equine Science Center. Romano, who resides in Clarksburg, NJ, is the wife of Anthony Romano, a member of the Board of Directors of the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey. "The award recognizes people whose lives have been impacted by horses and who continue to give back to horses and the equine industry through dedicated time and service," said Dr. Karyn Malinowski, director of the Rutgers Equine Science Center. "Maggi is a person who eats, breathes and lives horses 24/7/365. She doesn't take short cuts when the well-being of a horse is involved. Her philosophy is that when dealing with horses one should give 110 percent at least, but never less than 100 percent." As a young person in Germany, she went with her father every year to Aachen to watch the international jumping competition. After high school, vocational school, advanced night school and an office job, she traveled to New York in 1977, and she was introduced to standardbred horses at the Meadowlands. Romano served two years as president and one year as show manager of the Standardbred Pleasure Horse Organization of New Jersey [SPHO/NJ]. She is a board member of the New Jersey Horse Council, serving two years as president and as a delegate to the New Jersey Equine Advisory Board, where she served two years as vice chair and two years as chair. She currently serves as a delegate to the New Jersey Agricultural Convention and as the delegate from New Jersey to the Coalition of State Horse Councils and American Horse Council, where she serves on the Racing Advisory Committee. Maggi and her husband, Tony, currently have eight horses on their farm -- one active standardbred racehorse, six retired racehorses that she either owned or adopted, plus a mixed breed that she rescued in 2014. "Of course, it's an awesome honor to receive the Spirit of the Horse Award, but I still haven't figured out why me, so I don't know if I can live up to it," Romano said. "Previous recipients were tops in their profession and received national accolades. Maybe, it's because I am just an example of the many people who love and care for horses, day in and day out, without expecting and receiving fame and glory. And for all those people, I gratefully accept the Spirit of the Horse Award." Previous recipients include: Sandy Denarski, Dr. David Meirs II, Dr. Stephen P. Dey, Elizabeth Durkin, Toni Nigito, Rick Wills, Nancy Jaffer, Linda Toscano, Dr. Patty Hogan, and Peter Cofrancesco III. Romano will receive her award at the Rutgers Equine Science Center's Evening of Science and Celebration on Monday, November 10, 2014 at the Cook Campus Center, 59 Biel Road, New Brunswick, NJ from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. From 5 to 6 p.m. is the optional tour at the Red Barn on College Farm Road. A light supper will be available from 6 to 7 p.m. followed by the Science & Celebration, featuring speakers Angela Howard on "Preparing for Disaster" and Dr. David Horohov on "The Inflammatory Response to Exercise." Maggi Romano's Spirit of the Horse Award and the Gold Medal Horse Farm Award to Wood Hollow Farm of Colts Neck, NJ, will be presented by the Equine Science Center. Tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for full-time students. For more information, contact Kyle Hartmann at hartmann@aesop.rutgers.edu, call 848-932-9419 or visit esc.rutgers.edu. by Carol Hodes, for SBOANJ  

MANALAPAN, NJ – October 2, 2014 – Robert M. Baggitt Sr. of Allentown, NJ, a longtime horse owner and a member of the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association Board of Directors since 1985, passed away on Wednesday, October 1, 2014.  He was 81. Baggitt was on the owner, finance, pension and special events committees of the SBOANJ.  For many years, he co-chaired the SBOANJ’s golf outing, which each year raised money for the horsemen’s benevolent fund. He was a 34 year member and director of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association and a member of the U.S. Trotting Association. He was predeceased by his parents, William C. and Angela Mount Baggitt; a sister, Ann Baggitt, his brothers, Jack Baggitt and wife Joanne and William Baggitt; and brother-in-law, Arthur Smock. Surviving are his wife, Sandra Powers Baggitt; his children, Robert M. Baggitt, Jr. and his wife Christine, Ellen Cunningham and her husband Michael, Larry Baggitt and wife Tina, Timothy Baggitt and wife Kelly, Nancy and husband Robert Fitts; two sisters Rosemary Smock and June Higgins and her husband Larry; his grandchildren, Tyler Baggitt, Erica McDonald, Logan and Connor Cunningham, Alessandra, Lauren, Christina and Riley Baggitt; and  Bob J. and Jesse Fitts; great grandchildren Ella McDonald and Rylee Fitts; and many nieces and nephews. Visiting will be held at the Higgins Memorial Home, 20 Center Street, Freehold on Sunday from 2:00 to 4:00 and 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.  The Funeral Liturgy will be celebrated at St. Rose of Lima Church, Freehold on Monday at 10:00 a.m. followed by interment at St. Rose of Lima Cemetery.  IN lieu of flowers, memorial donations to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105 would be appreciated. by Carol Hodes, for SBOA/NJ

MANALAPAN, NJ - September 30, 2014 - The schedule for the free health screenings supervised by the Backstretch Community Assistance Program [BCAP] and sponsored by the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey, has been revised, shifting the Freehold Raceway event to Thursday, October 9, 2014. This is a week later than originally announced. The time remains 12 noon to 3 p.m. The program, which began in mid-September, will make its next stop on Monday, October 6 at Gaitway Farms from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For further information, contact Dr. Chris Samaha at 732-740-5376. Dates, times and which screenings are available at each location are listed below: 2014 HEALTH SCREENINGS & FLU VACCINATIONS DATES Monday, October 6 at Gaitway Farms 355 Highway 33 Manalapan Township, NJ 07726 11:30 am - 2:30 pm (CH, BP, G, BF, V & Flu Shots) Thursday, October 9 at Freehold Raceway Paddock 12 pm - 3 pm (CH, G, BP & Flu Shots) Wednesday, October 15 at White Birch 214 Route 526 Allentown, NJ 08501 11:30 am - 2:30 pm (CH, G, BP, BF & Flu Shots) Monday, October 20 at Magical Acres 160 Crosswicks-Chesterfield Road Trenton, NJ 08620 11:30 am - 2 pm (CH, BP, G & Flu Shots) Wednesday, October 22 at Showplace Farms [BCAP Office, Above Barn J] 11:30 am - 2:30 pm (CH, BP, G, BF, V & Flu Shots) Screening Legend: BF= Body Fat Index BP= Blood Pressure. CH=Cholesterol G= Glucose V= Vision by Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ

MANALAPAN, NJ - September 6, 2014 - Gold Rocks [$7.60] drew off to a four-length victory to take the $42,000 New Jersey Futurity for three-year-old New Jersey-sired pacers, the ninth race on Saturday, September 6, 2014 at Freehold Raceway. George Brennan pushed the son of Rocknroll Hanover three-wide and to the lead on the second time on the backstretch, going by the pacesetting Art History [Western Ideal], who hung on for second. It was four and a half lengths to Sweet Rock [Rocknroll Hanover] in third. The mile was clocked in 1:53.1, a personal best for the Tony Alagna trainee. Gold Rocks, a $15,000 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale purchase, picked up his third win with three seconds and one third in 13 starts this year for earnings of $58,580. Lifetime, he has finished in the money in 11 of 20 starts for $124,798, including a two-year-old stakes win in the $96,200 Babic Pace and a third in last year's $52,650 New Jersey Futurity. The brown colt races for Mystical Marker Farms LLC of Dyer, IN; Eagles Soar Partners of Staten Island, NY; Alan Alber of Thornhill, OH and Joe Sbrocco of Brecksville, OH. The New Jersey Futurity is restricted to New Jersey-sired horses and is sponsored by the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey. by Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ  

The New Jersey Sire Stakes will open its 2014 Green Acres racing season at Freehold Raceway on Thursday, August 28 with the opening round of competition for two-year-old colt trotters. The draw for the race will be held on Monday, August 25 with the entry box closing at 9am on that date. Green Acres racing will once again offer purses of $7,000 for each leg with the top eight point earners among the three qualifying legs in each division qualifying for the $25,000 finals. Entry fees remain $150 for each leg and $500 for horses that wish to race in the finals. The Green Acres Division will look to build off of the successful year of Premier Division racing at The Meadowlands in which three new records were established and yet another record equaled. More than $1.5 million was distributed in purse money during the Premier Division races while the average purse for each leg increased by 18% over 2013 levels. The Green Acres Division will be placed on hiatus effective for the foal crop of 2014. Its place will be taken by the newly legislated New Jersey Standardbred Development Fund. The Standardbred Development Fund will be open to all of the traditional New Jersey-sired horses as well as horses whose dams spend a minimum of 150 days in-state, inclusive of foaling, regardless of where the stallion may stand. This year, 221 "resident mares" were nominated to the program and they were in foal to many of the top sires in the country. Standardbred Development Fund races will begin for two-year-olds in 2016 and will be run that year in conjunction with the Green Acres program for three-year-olds. A full slate of Standardbred Development Fund races for all ages will be contested starting in 2017 Also on the horizon, the Meadowlands, together with the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey, will be implementing a bonus program for several of its overnight races for New Jersey-sired horses beginning with racing on December 5, 2014. Effective on that date, races meeting the condition of non-winners of one, two, three or four pari-mutuel races will carry a 60 percent bonus to the purse for New Jersey-sired horses. The bonus program encompasses both sexes and gaits. by Christopher Castens, for the NJSS      

Together with the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey, The Meadowlands will be implementing a bonus program for several of its overnight races for New Jersey sired horses. The program will begin on Friday, December 5, 2014. Beginning with that date, races meeting the condition of non-winners of one (1), two (2), three (3) or four (4) pari-mutuel races will carry a sixty percent (60%) bonus to the purse for New Jersey Sired horses. The bonus program encompasses both sexes of horse as well as gait. The purse structure will be as follows: Non-Winners of 1: $10,000 (Plus $6,000 for NJ-Sired horses) Non-Winners of 2: $12,500 (Plus $7,500 for NJ-Sired horses) Non-Winners of 3: $15,000 (Plus $9,000 for NJ-Sired horses) Non-Winners of 4: $17,500 (Plus $10,500 for NJ-Sired horses) Therefore, a New Jersey Sired horse will race for $16,000 in a non-winners of one (1) event, $20,000 in a non-winners of two (2) event, $24,000 in a non-winners of three (3) event and $28,000 in a non-winners of four event. "Competing with the slot-enriched programs in surrounding states is not an easy thing for New Jersey racing as we all know," said Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural. "But as tough as it is on our racing product, it is devastating to our breeding industry. This program has been to designed to help support the breeders in the state of New Jersey and help encourage horsemen to support New Jersey sired yearlings that go through the sales ring." Tommy Luchento, President of the SBOANJ agreed with Mr. Gural's sentiments. "I am very proud to announce this program together with The Meadowlands. We continue to work together in helping both the on-track product and the breeders in this state. We have a lot of work to do, but this is a positive step for the New Jersey program and I expect more good things in the future. I want to thank Jeff Gural and his team for working with us in formulating this plan." Any horsemen with questions regarding the program can contact Meadowlands Director of Racing Operations Darin Zoccali, or the SBOANJ. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands  

“We (SBOANJ) had spoken with Jeff Gural and he was pretty adamant about banning Brian Sears,” said Tom Luchento, president of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey (SBOANJ). “He has his reasons. Whether they were valid reasons or not, I can’t say because he did not share all the reason with us.” Last week management at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, NJ contacted Brian Sears and informed him he could not drive in any harness racing at the Meadowlands, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs. All tracks that are owned by businessman/horseman Jeff Gural. “We are not happy with it,” Luchento said pertaining to the SBOANJ. “This is something that is Jeff’s call. We talked that unless he came up with something substantial that this was not an easy pill to swallow, just telling the guy to take a walk. By the same token I think that Jeff needs to sit down with him (Sears) and that they have to iron this out.” Sears, 46, is one of the leading drivers in the harness racing industry. According to the United States Trotting Association, Sears has 8,832 career victories and $153,829.234 in purse earnings by the horses he had driven. He hails from a family deep in harness racing tradition. His late grandfather, Gene, is a member of the Hall of Fame and his father, Jay, is a prominent owner, breeder, trainer and driver. “I am pretty confident that they will work this out and that is going to happen,” Luchento said. “I am disappointed that something like this has had to happen. Do I think this will get ironed out? Absolutely yes. I think Jeff and Brian will sit down, work their differences out and will come together and end this. “We are not taking sides with anyone on this issue,” Luchento said. “I am not siding with Jeff Gural and I am not against Brian Sears. It is our job at the SBOANJ to protect our horsemen but if Jeff Gural has something and he brings it up and there is a legitimate beef that they have to work out depending on what that is. ‘At the very end,” Luchento said, “I know they will work it out.” By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

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