Winning the Open Space Pace this Past Saturday in Freehold – What was your Proudest Moment?
This past Saturday was a very proud day for me, as I had taken part in the celebrity race portion of the Open Space Pace and Festival of Horses.
Well, “celebrity” is a relative term.
Both Lou Russo of sister station 94-3 The Point and I raced against each other following the 9th race at Freehold Raceway; and while I can claim the honor of my horse (Mickey Mouse) coming in first – the real winner was the recognition that the equine industry received.
As you well know, without harness racing, the equine industry will be no more.
According to this:
Millstone Mayor Nancy Grbelja said, “Our purpose here today is to build an awareness of the importance of the horse and horse racing to our state and how closely linked the horse is to our precious open space,” “Today we honor our equine heritage with the Open Space Pace.”
Central New Jersey can depend on more than beaches and boardwalks for its economy, in fact, Grbelja said the state could harness the horse to drive growth and preserve its green space.
“Horse related operations account for more than 13,000 jobs, there are 42,500 horses in New Jersey, 30 percent are in the racing-related activities, and over 176,000 acres support 72 equine facilities,” Grbelja said. “that’s tremendous and that’s what gives us our quality of life in Monmouth County especially.”
New Jersey was among the country’s biggest breeding and training areas for standardbred horses, used in harness racing, but in recent years the industry has moved elsewhere as the size of purses and the number of racing opportunities has declined.
I’ve told the story before of my dad having been a passionate owner of racing horses, and had wished to be a groomer and jockey himself.
He would never have expected me of all people to win a race, never mind ride behind a pacer in a sulky.
But race I did, with the wind ripping at my face…and something else.
Just as I was rounding the first turn snapping the reigns for the horse to overtake Lou’s, the horse let go a stream of crap, spraying me in the face.
Now I know what it’s like to have been dumped on.
But it was all worth it, and one of my proudest moments, having won the race in front of family and friends.
There was only one thing that made it incomplete.
If only my father were there!