Ginsburg, Fusco win Freehold driver, trainer championships

It was all in the family when Vincent Ginsburg captured top driver honors and Vincent Fusco Jr. was the leading trainer when the 109-date Freehold Raceway meet concluded Dec. 12.

Ginsburg is Fusco’s nephew.

In the driver standings, Ginsburg posted 154 wins from 875 starters for earnings of $573,914. Finishing second was Eric Abbatiello with 148 wins and $586,070, while Stephen Smith topped the earnings list with $632,072 and his 133 wins placed third. Rounding out the top five were James Marshall III with 123 wins and Joseph Bongiorno with 78.

Fusco led the way in the trainer standings with 72 wins and $223,271 in earnings. The top five also included Nick Surick with 49 wins, John Urbanski with 40, Kelvin Harrison with 26 and Robert Bongiorno, 25.

The 2016 meet opens Jan. 1, with qualifiers in the morning at 9:30 and the first pari-mutuel race at 12:30 p.m.

Entries for the opening day card will close at 9 a.m. Dec. 29, while the box for qualifiers will close at 10 a.m. Dec. 31.

“I am looking forward to the 2016 racing season,” Freehold’s Director of Racing and Racing Secretary Karen Fagliarone said in a prepared statement. “We have the Standardbred Development Fund for 2-yearolds scheduled in the fall next year, and I am optimistic that we will offer fuller fields. “Our stakes schedule also includes the New Jersey Sire Stakes – Green Acres, the Dexter Cup, the Lady Suffolk, the Charles and Helen Smith Trots, the Lou Babic Paces, the Harold and Marion Dancer Trots and a late closer, which will be scheduled sometime in September.”

Live racing will take place on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays plus three Mondays: Jan. 18, Feb. 15 and Sept. 5.

“Our draw schedule will remain the same with the exception of Martin Luther King Day,” Fagliarone said. “We are hopeful that we can get together a race to honor Martin Luther King Day. I have reached out to Montrell and George Teague, and they have both expressed interest. The race will be held the prior week, though, to accommodate their schedule.”

Southwind Farms is top NJ breeder

Southwind Farms in Pennington has been selected as the New Jersey Breeder of the Year for 2015, the Breeders Committee of the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey (SBOANJ) announced.

Among the Southwind standouts of 2015 was Southwind Frank, the likely divisional champion among the 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings.

Southwind Farms will receive the presentation on Jan. 24 at the 59th Annual New Jersey Breeders Awards Luncheon at 1 p.m. at O’Connor’s Restaurant (formerly Charley’s Other Brother) in Eastampton.

Southwind Frank, a son of Muscle Hill – Flawless Lindy, won 11 of 12 starts in 2015, earning $786,419 for the partnership of Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Our Horse Cents Stables and J&T Silva Stables LLC. A $100,000 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale purchase, he was trained by Ron Burke and driven in most of his starts by Yannick Gingras.

Beginning with the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final July 17 at the Meadowlands, he strung together 10 straight victories, including the $349,850 Peter Haughton Memorial at the Meadowlands, the $283,480 William Wellwood Final at Mohawk and the $600,000 Breeders Crown Final at Woodbine.

His record of 1:52.2 was taken Oct. 8, winning an International Stallion Stakes at Lexington’s Red Mile.

“Receiving this award is bittersweet,” said Laura Young, Southwind’s general manager, in a prepared statement. “It is wonderful we are being recognized as the top breeder in New Jersey, but on the other hand there are not many of us left. At Southwind Farms, we choose to fly under the radar. Sometimes being silent is louder than loud. We have always produced top quality racehorses from our facility. We average 75 percent 2-year-old starter and 85 percent 3- year-old starter stats, which is pretty impressive for any breeding farm. This does not go unrecognized by owners and trainers.

“There are many things that set Southwind Farms apart from other breeding facilities in New Jersey. Many of these things have assured our survival through tough times. We continue to keep everything we possibly can in-house. We make our own hay and straw, and we outsource very little on the facility. Southwind has also found many other ways to ensure revenue flow to keep us going, such as managing stallions [Muscle Hill, Sportswriter and El Titan] from afar.”

This is the second Breeders Award for Southwind Farms. Founded by Connie and Allen Skolnick in 1986, the farm features 235 acres near the Village of Pennington. Both Skolnicks passed away in 2013, and the farm is currently owned by their son, Barry.

Tickets for the luncheon cost $40 per person and may be purchased from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Division of Markets & Development, Horse Industry, PO Box 330, Trenton, NJ 08625.