Horses

News Briefs From The Backstretch

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The New York Racing Association, Inc.and Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation partnered to raise thousands of dollars and collect hundreds of toys at Aqueduct Racetrack, Dec 2 and 3, 2017. Credits: NYRA
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Frank Pallone, Jr. speaks at Monmouth Park with Jay Coffey (L) Mayor of Oceanport, Dennis Drazin (2nd R) of Darby Development, and William J. Pascrelll, III (R) of Princeton Public Affairs. Credits: Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO
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1,000 Training Wins For Surick

FREEHOLD, NJ — Nick Surick notched his 1,000th training win on Friday Nov. 24 at Freehold Raceway. The 29-year-old conditioner sent out six winners that day,  reaching the career milestone with Uppercutz’s victory in the fifth race.

Surick has been a regular at Freehold Raceway since starting his training career in 2009. Just eight years later, with virtually no racing background the Freehold native, is on the verge of capturing his second training title at Freehold Raceway. The young trainer is dominating the Freehold racing scene. As of early December he was the leading trainer with 181 wins, 101 seconds and 65 thirds in just 487 starts.

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This season, he had already matched his career-best seasonal earnings of $1.7 million with a month left to go. His career earning total currently sits at just under $10 million lifetime.

The Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey would like to congratulate Nick Surick on his milestone.

Pallone Working To Bring Legal Sports Betting to N.J.

OCEANPORT, N.J. — Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. held a press conference at Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport, N.J. on Nov. 21 to call on Congress to advance his proposal, the GAME Act, allowing states to legalize sports betting. The proposal removes federal barriers involving sports betting and other gaming in states that have implemented basic consumer protections, including mechanisms for age and location verification; safeguards to protect privacy and data security of players; and recourse mechanisms for consumers.

Hambletonian Society Announces Promotions

CRANBURY, N.J.— Moira Fanning, Director of Publicity and Event Operations for the Hambletonian Society, has been named COO by the executive committee of the Society, effective immediately.

Fanning has been with the Society since 1988 and will take over many of the administrative duties performed by former president and CEO Tom Charters. Earlier this year Charters announced his retirement and the board elected John Campbell, the sport's all-time leading money winning driver, to succeed him as president.

“This is a well-deserved promotion for Moira,” said Campbell. “She has been a tremendous asset for the Society for many years and her professionalism, talent and commitment are unparalleled in our industry. It has been a pleasure working with and learning from her these last few months and I feel fortunate we will be working together for the foreseeable future.”

In addition, David Janes, who has been the staking assistant and IT Manager for the past year, has been promoted to Stakes Manager, replacing the recently retired Callie Davies-Gooch. He will be responsible for the staking arm of the Society, which currently services 131 important stakes, closers and events across North America.

Janes has been with the Society since 2009 and recently completed his B.A. in Information Technology and Informatics from Rutgers. He has gained experience in all facets of the harness racing business through his involvement in the VIP Internet Stable, one of the most successful and longest-running racehorse syndication partnerships, which his father, Tom Janes, co-manages with founder Ed O’Connor.

Digital Foal Certificates to be Introduced in 2018

The Jockey Club reminds Thoroughbred breeders that digital foal certificates will be replacing hard copies of foal certificates beginning with the 2018 foal crop. The transition to digital foal certificates was first announced at the Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing in August 2016.

Breeders, as well as those who act as agents for breeders, who do not already have an Interactive Registration account should sign up for one atregistry.jockeyclub.com.

 “We encourage those who manage Certificates of Foal Registration to sign up for an Interactive Registration account between now and early 2018 if they have not already done so,” said Matt Iuliano, executive vice president and executive director of The Jockey Club. “The use of digital foal certificates will allow foal papers to be easily transferred between entities at the click of a button, and we are looking forward to implementing this much-needed change.”

“We applaud The Jockey Club for pursuing this digital initiative which, given the number of certificates we manage annually, will create operational efficiencies for Keeneland and greater convenience for horsemen worldwide,” said Bob Elliston, vice president of racing and sales for Keeneland Association.

More information about digital foal certificates will be made available in early 2018 before they are officially launched in the spring.

Nash Wins Hambletonian Society Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge

With the victory of Downbytheseaside in Dover Down’s Hap Hansen Progress Stakes on Thursday (Nov. 30), Rusty Nash was crowned the winner of the 2017 edition of the Hambletonian Society Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge.

With seven handicappers sharing the 100 points for selecting the race winner, there was no opportunity for Gordon Waterstone, Sally Hinckley or the others to move up and challenge Nash for the checkered flag.

By winning the Handicapping Challenge, Rusty Nash earned $3,225 for Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue in the United States and $925 for Greener Pastures – BC Standardbred Horse Adoption Society in Canada. Second place finisher Gordon Waterstone earned $1,650 for Horse Lovers United (US) and $450 for Galahad Refuge (CA). For finishing third, Sally Hinckley earned $825 for Helping Hearts Equine Rescue (US) and $225 for Morningstar Acres (CA).

With the $8,000 being distributed to Standardbred horse rescues this cycle, the HANA Harness contest will have facilitated in the distribution of over $33,000 over the past six years.

'Toys for Tots' raises thousands of dollars and collects hundreds of toys at Aqueduct Racetrack

OZONE PARK, N.Y. — The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) and Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation partnered to raise thousands of dollars and collect hundreds of toys during its weekend of giving at Aqueduct Racetrack. The toys will be distributed as holiday gifts to less fortunate children in the New York City and on Long Island.

An annual tradition at Aqueduct Racetrack, Toys for Tots collected new, unwrapped toys, as well as donations on Saturday, Dec. 2 and 3.

"New York Racing Association was proud to once again host the U.S. Marines and help support their great cause of delivering toys to local families in need this holiday season," said Lynn LaRocca, NYRA Sr. Vice President and Chief Experience Officer. "We look forward to partnering with Toys for Tots for years to come."

"With these generous gifts, we will be able to bring joy to hundreds of families in our community this holiday season," said retired U.S. Marine Corps Major Chuck Kilbride. "The kindness and generosity of NYRA, its fans and the horsemen here at Aqueduct was once again on display this weekend."

On Saturday, NYRA held its annual Stocking Stuffer Sale, selling vintage giveaway items with a portion of the proceeds going to Toys for Tots. The sale will continue next Saturday, December 9. 

Partnering with NYRA to raise funds for Toys for Tots this weekend were thoroughbred owner Harold Lerner, the New York Thoroughbred Horseman's Association, trainer Gary Contessa, and thoroughbred owner Salvatore Sano.

The Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation is celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2017.

Michael Veitch, Jack Whitaker and Barney Nagler named to the National Museum of Racing’s Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Esteemed media members Michael Veitch, Jack Whitaker and the late Barney Nagler have been selected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame’s Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor.

Veitch, a Saratoga Springs native and graduate of Plattsburgh State University, has been covering thoroughbred racing for The Saratogian and The Pink Sheet since 1979. He is the author of two books relating to Saratoga racing, “Foundations of Fame: Nineteenth Century Racing in Saratoga Springs” and “Summit of Champions: Thoroughbred Racing in Saratoga Springs 1901-1955.”

A longtime trustee of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and a member of the Saratoga Springs History Museum’s Hall of Fame, Veitch served as editor of New York Thoroughbred from 1983 through 1994. He has also written for The Racing Times, Daily Racing Form, Thoroughbred Record, Horsemen’s Journal and Backstretch.

Veitch also has extensive television experience, co-hosting the popular “Down the Stretch” program on Capital OTB-TV for 16 years. Furthermore, he is the chairman of the National Museum of Racing’s Historic Review Committee and a member of the nominating committee of the Thoroughbred Division of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Veitch has also done work for the Breeders’ Cup, producing the media guide for the 1985 edition at Aqueduct.

“Michael is the epitome of the dedicated professional journalist, and that dedication is matched by his devotion to what he believes is best for thoroughbred racing,” said Edward L. Bowen, chairman of the Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor Selection Committee. “His obvious enjoyment of the game is appealing, and contagious.”

Whitaker, a Philadelphia native and graduate of Saint Joseph’s University, began his broadcasting career in radio before entering network television sports at CBS in 1961. Along with his distinguished coverage of the Triple Crown races, Whitaker is known for his reporting and commentary on golf’s annual four major championships and was a studio host for the “NFL Today.” Whitaker moved to ABC in 1982 and served the network as a reporter for both news and sports.

A three-time Emmy Award winner, Whitaker also won an Eclipse Award for National Television Achievement in 1977. He received the Maryland Jockey Club’s Old Hilltop Award for outstanding coverage of thoroughbred racing in 1983 and was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2013, Whitaker was presented the Jim McKay Award for excellence in broadcasting by the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters. Whitaker was portrayed in the 2007 ESPN film “Ruffian,” which was based upon the ill-fated match race between Ruffian and Foolish Pleasure at Belmont Park.

When Ruffian broke down in the race, Whitaker said: “A false step here and the years of planning and breeding and training and loving came to an end. A horse with the speed and stamina and heart … a horse, like the Bible says, ‘whose neck is clothed in thunder.’”

“I often think of Jack Whitaker as a poet,” said Bowen. “His ability to summarize a situation in a way that is both informative and highly moving is a special gift I admire very much.”

Nagler (1912-1990), a New York City native and graduate of New York University, wrote a newspaper column devoted mainly to thoroughbred racing and boxing for almost 40 years. Nagler began writing for The Morning Telegraph in 1950. In 1972, when The Morning Telegraph ceased publication, Nagler’s “On Second Thought” column moved to its sister publication, Daily Racing Form.

Before joining The Morning Telegraph, Nagler worked as a radio writer for the “Colgate Sports Newsreel.” He also worked in the 1950s and 1960s as a television producer of sports events on NBC and ABC, including segments for “Wide World of Sports,” the Olympic Winter Games of 1964 and the Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree, England.

In 1978, Nagler received the Walter Haight Award for excellence in reporting on thoroughbred racing from the National Turf Writers Association. Nagler authored several books, including the racing titles “The American Horse” and “Shoemaker, America’s Greatest Jockey.”

“I always enjoyed any contact with Barney,” recalled Bowen. “He had a sardonic way about him, of which humor was perhaps the stronger ingredient. He was incredibly knowledgeable.”

Previous selections to the Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor are Steven Crist (2010), Bill Nack (2010), Red Smith (2010), Charles Hatton (2010), Dr. Russ Harris (2011), Joe Palmer (2011), Jay Hovdey (2012), Whitney Tower (2012), Andrew Beyer (2013), Kent Hollingsworth (2013), George F. T. Ryall (2013), Jennie Rees (2014), Jim Murray (2014), Steve Haskin, Raleigh Burroughs (2015), Maryjean Wall (2016) and Jim McKay (2016).

The National Museum of Racing’s Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor was established in 2010 to recognize individuals whose careers have been dedicated to, or substantially involved in, writing about thoroughbred racing (non-fiction), and who distinguished themselves as journalists. The criteria has since been expanded to allow the inclusion of broadcast journalists

Often referred to as the dean of thoroughbred racing writers, Hirsch won both the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Writing and the Lord Derby Award in London from the Horserace Writers and Reporters association of Great Britain. He also received the Eclipse Award of Merit (1993), the Big Sport of Turfdom Award (1983), The Jockey Club Medal (1989), and was designated as the honored guest at the 1994 Thoroughbred Club of America’s testimonial dinner. The annual Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont Park is named in his honor. Hirsch was also a former chairman of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Nominating Committee. He died in 2009.

The Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor Committee is comprised of Bowen, National Museum of Racing trustees Leverett Miller and Ken Grayson, Cot Campbell of Dogwood Stable, retired turf publicist Jane Goldstein and Dan Smith of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. 

See  www.racingmuseum.org for more information.

4-H Members Get Inside Look at Harness racing

MANALAPAN, N.J. — Hearts & Horseshoes 4-H equine club was introduced to the training of harness racehorses on Dec. 3. Thirty young people, parents and advisors met with Suzanne D’Ambrose, who set up the tour with various trainers and staff

D’Ambrose is a member of the Standardbred Pleasure Horse Organization of N.J. and is one of the equine science instructors for Monmouth County 4-H.

The group met Gaitway Farm staff member, Butch Sheridan, at the equine pool and he answered questions about the pool from the 4-H members.

They watched Margaret “Maggi” Romano lead pacer Wicked Business into the pool and swim for his therapy. Videos and photos were taken by the 4-H members since they were excited to see a horse swim.

The last visit was with Veronica Spicer who gave the group a detailed look at the harness racing equipment up close. Spicer tacked up trotter, Kapow, as everyone watched closely, and asked questions. Once tacked, her husband, Symon Spicer hopped in the jog cart and the group watched as Kapow trained on the track.

“It was nice to see so much interest from the 4-H club. They want to see Kapow race.” Spicer said. “They were very enthusiastic.”

Hearts & Horseshoes 4-H equine club has plans to visit Fair Winds Farm in Cream Ridge N.J. in April, and Southwind Farms in Pennington N.J., in May. A “Day at the Races” is also planned, at Freehold Raceway.

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