37 arrested amid Far Hills Race’s boozey crowd
Authorities say despite the increase in attendees at this year's Far Hills Race, there wasn't an influx in the number of arrests compared to last year.
Far Hills Police Chief Michael DeCarolis said police made a total of 37 arrests during Saturday's race, which has earned a reputation over the years for the drunken, unruly behavior that often takes place during the event.
The number of arrests, DeCarolis said, was "basically equivalent to last year" when 36 people were taken into custody for various violations. This year's total is also a lot lower than 2013, when a total of 55 arrests were made.
"They were the usual violations," DeCarolis said, referring to arrests made in previous years.
The police chief said part of the reason was that authorities are very proactive in handling the crowd. Officers scanned the venue to make sure excessive alcohol was not an issue.
"We approached each individual spot that had excessive alcohol displayed," DeCarolis said.
A breakdown of this year's arrests include:
- Public urination: 26;
- Disorderly conduct: 7;
- Drug-related: 4; and
- Presenting false documentation: 1
The steeplechase draws tens of thousands to Moorland Farm in Far Hills each year, not just for the race itself, but the tailgating that takes place. The event also results in traffic gridlock as cars filter through the municipality. Attendance at this year's race was about 35,000 people - about 3,000 more than last year.
According to the Far Hills Race Meeting Association website, the race - also known as the hunt - "traces its origins to the Essex Hunt, a fox hunting event founded in Montclair, NJ in 1870. In 1913, the organizers of the Essex Hunt incorporated as the Essex Fox Hounds. The Far Hills Race Meeting currently offers some of the richest purses in America and is host of the The Grand National steeplechase, the most prestigious race in American steeplechasing."
The Far Hills Race Meeting Association could not be reached for comment.
Toniann Antonelli is the digital managing editor at NJ 101.5. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.