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Freehold Raceway reopens for live harness racing Aug. 26

Eric Sucar
A rider and a horse warm up during the first day of the Jersey Fresh International held at the Horse Park of New Jersey in Upper Freehold on May 11. The Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event took place May 11th through 15th, is a premier venue that draws equestrian sports’ top competitors.

Live harness racing returns to Freehold Raceway Aug. 26.

The nation’s oldest, continually operating daytime harness race track will open its fall/winter meet with the $55,000 Marion Dancer 2-year-old filly trot. Post time is 12:30 p.m. for all racing days.

Live racing will take place Thursdays-Saturdays with a special Labor Day program Sept. 5. The meet will run from Aug. 26-Dec. 10. Admission to the track is free. The race track is open seven days a week for simulcasting.

Labor Day weekend will be highlighted by the $55,000 Harold Dancer Trot for 2-year-old colts and the $50,000 Helen Smith Final for 3-year-old filly trotters Sept. 2.

Other major stake races during the meet are the $60,000 Charles Smith Trot  for 3-year-old colts Sept. 16; the $75,00 Lou Babic Pace for 2-year-old colts Sept. 17; the $50,000 Lou Babic for 2-year-old filly pacers Sept. 17; the $40,000 New Jersey Futurity for 2-year trotters Oct. 13; the $40,000 New Jersey Futurity for 2-year-old trotters Oct. 14; the $40,000 New Jersey Futurity for 2-year-old pacers Oct. 15; the $35,000 Standardbred Development Fund finals for 2-year-old colts pacers and 2-year-old filly pacers Oct. 8; the SDF final for 2-year-old colts trotters Oct. 20; and the $35,000 SDF Final for 2-year-old filly trotters Oct. 21.

During the winter/spring meet (Jan. 1-May 21), Eric Abbatiello led all drivers with 99 wins. James Marohn Jr. (83), Joseph Bongiorno (69), James Marhall III (67) and Stephen Smith (66) were the meet’s other top drivers.

Abbatiello also had the highest earnings at $338,587 among the drivers.

Vincent Fusco, Jr. was tops among the trainers, harnessing 34 winners during the meet. Elizabeth Carotneuto was second with 29. John Urbansky (26), Patricia Harmon (20) and Richard Johnson (19) rounded out the top five.

Fusco’s standardbreds won the most money ($108,430).

Freehold’s track records are 1:50.3 for pacers set by One More Laugh, a 3-year-old gelding, and 1:55.1 for trotters held by Mighty Moses, an aged gelding. The still-standing world record for 2-year-old fillies on a half-mile track of 1:56.3 was set by CR Kay Suzie at Freehold in 1994.

Freehold Raceway’s roots go back to the 1800s and fair racing. The first meet that was held on the land that is now the site of the racetrack was in 1854. The Monmouth County Agricultural Society first came together in 1853 for the purpose of holding a fair meet. Harness racing has continued ever since, and Freehold’s half-mile track has gained a reputation as one of the fastest in the nation.

Many of the greatest names and race horses in harness history have raced at Freehold, from New Egypt’s Stanley Dancer, William Haughton and Herve Filion to the pacers Albatross and Niatross and the trotter Pine Chip.

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