Somerset County News

Far Hills 97th Meeting Race Draws 40,000 Tailgaters and Horse Enthusiasts

f3cb9e55b3cd5a40fa62__V0A5882.jpg
ba55160c109c7f38fbb6__V0A5572.jpg
3115ff85a948b4c81834__V0A5633.jpg
b1635ef95ac300f50e92__V0A5680.jpg
f3cb9e55b3cd5a40fa62__V0A5882.jpg

FAR HILLS, NJ - A massive crowd of 40,000 tailgaters and horse enthusiasts, young and old alike, swarmed the small town of Far Hills yet again for the 97th annual Far Hills Race Meeting. The race fans and partyers arrived Saturday at Moorland Farms adorned in their best fall attire.

The day's action started long before the races. As the sun began to peek over the colorful trees, families, friends, and coworkers, many of whom have been regulars at the race for years, set up their elaborate tailgate displays. he expansive rows of cars quickly transformed into set-ups consisting of foods, games, family wagers—and plenty of alcohol.

Throughout the past years, organizers have worked to evolve the event from a drinking free-for-all to a tamer one and create an event more centralized around horse racing and families. But no one has ever attempted to make the Far Hills fundraising event - which is always held in October and often attracts glorious fall weather - into a dry affair.

Sign Up for E-News

While some displays featured catered food, ice sculptures, champagne glasses and fine liquor, other racegoers grilled their own steaks or snacked on homemade foods. The idyllic view over the track from the hill stood in stark contrast to the ruckus on the inside.

“It’s rowdy in there,” one man said to another. “Definitely rowdy” the other confirmed. They seemed more content with being on the outside looking in—enjoying the afternoon lounging on hay bales and sipping bubbly.

The infield featured its usual crowd of college students in a scene that resembled a football tailgate more than a horse race. But, other than those who tossed footballs back and forth from the bed of their pickup truck, there was no football game — and most hardly seemed to notice the sport going on around them. Music blared as the young throng played games of beer pong, danced on hay bales and socialized with friends on the roof of their cars.

On the track, it was all business. And despite the rowdy environment in the infield and the focus on dining on the hill, the races provided an exciting show.

Cameras positioned throughout the field live-streamed the races and interviews with owners and jockeys. Displayed on large screens and streamed online, the presence of the horse race has become more prevalent at the event.This year's event initiated the use of wristbands to identify patrons over the age of 21. “It is our goal that by working collaboratively with law enforcement and FHRMA, each patron who visits will be offered a safe, friendly atmosphere in which to enjoy themselves,” stated Far Hills Mayor Paul Vallone in regard to the partnership with law enforcement and race organizers.

The Far Hills Race Meeting Association also announced it’s partnership with ridesharing service “Lyft” to curb drunk driving and provide safe transportation for attendees.

Among the many efforts to limit excessive alcohol consumption, the Association has also worked to bring a stronger focus to the races. With a purse totaling $800,00—the largest of any steeplechase in America, racing enthusiasts already know the esteem of this race. But the event has also sought to become a more global focus.

Jack Doyle, who jockeyed “Mr. Hot Stuff” to a victory in The Grand National, stated after his race, “To be over here and to be able to win the American national is fantastic and hopefully we might be bringing jump racing to more of a global stage. Hopefully, some more of the European ambassadors will start to travel… and maybe in the future, some more American marshals might start coming to Ireland as well.”

Event is a fundraiser

On the local level, the race has raised over $18 million since the 1950's to benefit the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset, much of which has gone to the Steeplechase Cancer Center.
Anthony Cava, president of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset, praised the event's fundraising for allowing the hospital to advance stating, “This year we’re putting in a piece of an experiment that goes into our radiology center that enables us to detect heart and brain anomalies very quickly. And two years ago we were able to purchase two ambulances that actually serve the Far Hills/Bedminster area.”

In September of 2016, Governor Chris Christie signed into law a bill that gave permission for pari-mutuel betting at the Far Hills Race Meeting to be implemented. Due to logistical issues with setting up the technology for betting in the 230-acre open field, it was not a part of this year's event. Nonetheless, you can count on the thousands of attendees to return next year, looking to continue long traditions and also to create new ones at the richest day of steeplechase racing in the country.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Bridgewater/Raritan

Upcoming Events

Thu, February 22

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Thu, February 22, 9:00 AM

The Center for Contemporary Art , Bedminster

Dan Bischoff: Critic As Artist

Arts & Entertainment

Thu, February 22, 9:00 AM

The Center for Contemporary Art, Bedminster

Keepers of the Chroma: An Exhibition Regarding ...

Arts & Entertainment

Raritan Police: Warren Man Arrested for DWI and More in Police Blotter

February 17, 2018

RARITAN, NJ - A Warren man was arrested Feb. 1 for driving while intoxicated following a motor vehicle violation, according to a report from Raritan Borough Police.

Wayne Krause, 68, was charged with driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and speeding after being pulled over on Route 22 West.

Krause was processed and released pending a court appearance.

Police made other arrests for ...

County Holding 5th Annual 5K Race to Wellness

February 18, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Somerset County Employee Wellness Committee is partnering with EmPoWER Somerset for the 5th Annual 5K Race to Wellness and 1-mile Fun Walk for county residents March 24.

The event, according to a release, is being held rain or shine at 9 a.m. at Duke Island Park, on Old York Road.

The 5K race is USATF certified.

"Each year, the county Employee Wellness ...

Somerville Merchants Endorse Plan to Reduce Parking Lot Fees

February 21, 2018

SOMERVILLE, NJ – The Borough’s controversial parking fees are set to undergo another revision, with hourly parking reduced from 75 to 50 cents in municipal lots 1,2,4 and 6, according to a merchant-driven plan endorsed by Mayor Ellen Brain.

The $1 hourly rate for parking on Main Street will remain the same, according to the mayor.

The hours of enforcement will also be changed to ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...