I’ve always been a proponent of open space.

And to some degree, horseracing.

Horseracing runs in the family.

My dad used to own trotters; and race them all over.

Here in Freehold, up in Monticello, over in Yonkers and Roosevelt; and one of the tracks outside Philly.

It was a hobby my grandmother hated he had.

She used to tell him, in her very descriptive Neapolitan that he didn’t need to take uo with horses because, in her words “….tu tien’ quatta’ cavalli’ a casa!”; or in other words, “you have 4 of your own horses at home!”

And my father-in-law used to be a clerk at one of the local OTBs in our area.

So if my father and father-in-law were alive to see me don the silks and do a half mile around Freehold Raceway; he probably would have smiled; and my grandmother would have cursed!

The Open Space Pace is a project that was put together by Sam Landy; president of UMH Properties, the Monmouth Real Estate Investment Corporation; and Congress Hills Farms…a facility in Monroe Township that cares for racing horses…one of the many farm like it across the state.

You may remember that Governor Christie had made it clear that he’s opposed to tracks like the Meadowlands and the like being converted into racinos.

That has all to do with the “5 Year Plan” to get Atlantic City on its feet…and to accomplish that, have the monopoly on casino gambling here in New Jersey.

Farm owners like Landy would like nothing more than to see gaming facilities be expanded to tracks; which would, in their opinion, attract those who might become interested in horse racing, allowing the sport to thrive.

As it stands, without making tracks more attractive; there’s the likelihood that much of that open space could become developed, bringing with it the needed upgrades in infrastructure…such as new schools, more police, etc.

Hence, when asked by the sponsors of the Open Space Pace to participate; I had to jump at it.

So this morning (Saturday) at Freehold Raceway, the day started out a bit cloudy and cool.

Lou, Kirk, me, and Liz pre race

First off were the morning duo of Lou and Liz at sister station 94-3 The Point, with Lou Russo handily winning his race.

I was pitted against Kirk Jimenez, the night anchor at SNY.

There was no way I was going to loose to a TV guy; and with my background, I knew the fates were on my side.

Once on the track, we were off! The horse’s butt shimming back and forth; all the while I was snapping the reigns for the horse to go faster.

Running on the inside proved futile, as I then had Mariner take to the outside.

Pebbles in the face, horse saliva streaming into my face…I wasn’t about to give up.

First I could see myself leading by a neck, then by a stride…then a full length.


And finally across the finish line to victory!

And like a kid at the end of an amusement park ride…my first reaction was, “…can we do it again!”

Hopefully next year!

Congrats to my fellow racers, Lou, Liz, Kirk…along with Sam and Harry Landy and everyone associated with the Open Space Pace for a thrilling event!