Local equine aficionados attend Breeders Crown

Staff Writer

Local equine aficionados
attend Breeders Crown
Staff Writer

The Breeders Crown finals at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford on Nov. 29 brought out the best harness racers in the world — and western Monmouth County, the heart of Standardbred racing on the Eastern seaboard, was well-represented.

Local drivers such as Cat Manzi and Mike Lachance; trainers, including Linda Toscano, Kerstin Miller and Patrick Lachance; breeders, such as Perretti and Walnridge in Cream Ridge; and numerous local owners were among those at the Breeders Crown finals last weekend.

The event occurred in the midst of possible changes coming to the horse racing industry in the state. Recent discussions about the possible sale of race tracks by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA), and whether slot machines may be introduced at race tracks, will have an effect on the viability of the sport. Whether the effects are positive are negative remain unknown.

Mark Mullen, manager of his family’s Fair Winds Farm in Upper Freehold, a large part of which is permanently preserved farmland, said he sees racing as "keeping New Jersey green."

"People don’t associate racing with farming, and racing with breeding. Breeding and training consumes farm acreage. It’s a tremendous agricultural activity," Mullen said.

He suggested a slogan for the state’s horse racing industry, " Bet a horse — save an acre."

Mullen said while the state has been raising bond issues to buy development rights for farms, "we should be preserving farmers, not farmland."

"If the farm is successful, it will continue to run. Any farming needs to be supported," he said.

Mullen added that for racing to prosper, it is necessary "to get everybody pulling in the same direction — the tracks, the horsemen, Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds and the breeders all have different interests."