FAR HILLS, N.J.— Fans attending the 98th annual running of the Far Hills Races at Moorland Farms on Oct. 20 will find a brand-new attraction — pari-mutuel betting.
The seven-race card offers $850,000 in gross purses, the highest dollar value of any sanctioned steeplechase meeting in North America. The highlight for the 2018 renewal will be the $450,000 Grand National, steeplechasing's richest race In North America that annually draws the best horses in training both here and from Europe.
The addition of legal wagering will no doubt assist the race committee attain its stated goals of $1 million in purses and a $500,000 Grand National in time for the 100th running of the race meeting in 2020.
In compliance with New Jersey law, the Far Hills meeting will be operated using Monmouth Park's pari-mutuel license. The racing and wagering will be supervised by the New Jersey Racing Commission.
“After years of working closely with the Far Hills Race Meeting team, we’re so pleased the partnership is finally official,” said Red Bank, N.J. attorney Dennis Drazin, president and CEO of Darby Development LLC, which operates Monmouth Park. “We are grateful to have an opportunity to support this beloved 98-year tradition while also raising greater awareness for steeplechase racing and all equine sports throughout the region and beyond.”
Legal betting on steeplechase racing received a lot of backing from members of the New Jersey legislature when the authorizing legislation was passed in August 2016. Logistical problems forced postponement of the plan until this year.
Guy Torsilieri of Whitehouse, N.J., the Far Hills co-chair who is also president of the National Steeplechase Association, was one of the first proponents of legal wagering at Far Hills and has been spearheading the campaign to make it happen. “We've resolved the logistical issues. Now, we're ready to provide a top-quality wagering experience,” he said.
Local government officials have also welcomed the partnership of steeplechase racing and legal wagering. "As mayor, I and the borough council support the introduction of pari-mutuel wagering at the Far Hills Race Meeting, not only to enhance the event's experience, but also to continue to provide funding for local charities, medical facilities and borough programs — both present and future — providing an important benefit to our residents,” said Borough of Far Hills Mayor Paul J. Vallone, M.D.
While most of the money wagered is expected to come on track, bettors around the world will be able to wager on the Far Hills races through one of the several advance deposit wagering services presently in use for inter-track and off-track wagering. The Far Hills meeting started its preparation for wagering with the introduction of high-definition video streaming in 2016.
“We feel that Far Hills offers a premier steeplechase experience, and we welcome the opportunity to share our races with all of America and jump-racing fans around the world,” said Torsilieri. “We hope that this combination of top-level competition, a superior video experience, and a wagering opportunity will attract new fans to steeplechase racing.”
The Far Hills Races, which were originally a production of the Essex Fox Hounds, are steeped in the steeplechase tradition of helping the communities in which the races are run.
Over the years, Far Hills Race Meeting has provided more than $18 million to fund local health-care initiatives, including the Steeplechase Cancer Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset (named in honor of the Far Hills Race Meeting), Cancer Support Community of Central New Jersey, Bonnie Brae, the ARC of Somerset County, LifeCamp and Community in Crisis.
Racing and 'chasing fans will want to stay in touch with tapinto.net for details on the wagering formats to used when betting comes to Far Hills.
For those who want to look ahead, here are the races being offered.
1. $50,000 Gladstone for 3-year-olds. 2-1/8 miles over National Fences.
2. $$50,000 Harry E. Harris Sport of Kings Maiden Hurdle, 2-1/8 miles over National Fences.
3. $125,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle Sport of Kings Novice Hurdle Stakes, 2-1/2 miles over National Fences.
4. $450,000, Grade 1 Grand National for 4-year-olds and older, 2-5/8 miles over National Fences.
5. $50,000 Appleton Ratings Handicap, 2-5/8 miles over National Fences.
6. $75,000 Peapack Stakes for fillies and mares, 2-1/8 miles over National Fences.
7. $50,000 New Jersey Hunt Cup, 3-1/4 miles over Timber Fences.
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