OCEANPORT – The New Jersey State Senate honored Monmouth Park, Dennis Drazin and all those involved in this year’s Aug. 2 William Haskell Invitational for their contributions in executing what Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) dubbed a “wonderful family day.”And it just may happen all over again in September. Monmouth Park is trying to arrange a $1M race, in addition to a lucrative multi-race bonus package, to lure American Pharoah’s owner, Ahmed Zayat to return the Triple Crown winner back to Oceanport in September.Drazin, horseman, Red Bank attorney and advisor to Monmouth Park who was the man behind getting American Pharoah here in the first place, has been trying since before the Haskell to get the horse here again, apparently.Drazin said if the horse is going to run in the Travers Stakes in Saratoga Aug. 29 he would need another race before the Breeders’ Cup Classic Oct. 31 to stay in shape.“It would be convenient for his schedule” to have the Monmouth Park race,” Drazin said.There as been no word from the owners that the horse will run in the Tavers or at Monmouth Park, Drazin stressed.“We’re still following up on these efforts,” in trying to get American Pharoah back to Monmouth Park,” he continued. “But absolutely nothing is confirmed at this point.”A return performance would do a world of good for racing in the state, track, county and state officials agree, as well as hopefully have a cascading effect on open space according to the Monmouth County Conservation Foundation. Too many horse farms are being sold because of the low purses being offered in New Jersey, Conservation Foundation officials contend but, they add, political will can change that.American Pharoah’s appearance had a powerful economic impact on the county as well estimated to be $40M, tied with the Breeders Cup in 2007, or more.This year’s Haskell was the largest in Monmouth Park history, with a record-setting 60, 983 in attendance and a high mark of $20M in pari-mutuel wagering throughout the day. “With this year’s record Haskell Invitational, featuring a Triple Crown winner, Monmouth Park once again showed its economic importance for the region and state by drawing more than 60,000 spectators, a worldwide television audience and creating tens of millions of dollars in economic impact,” Kyrillos said. “The equestrian industry has a long and storied history in the Garden State, producing goods and services in excess of $710 million and providing tens of thousands of jobs, as well as generating significant revenue through racing and recreation.”Zayat has stressed he wants to run his horse in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Oct. 31. A Triple Crown winner has never run in the race because it was established after the last Triple Crown winner and Pharoah broke a 37-year dry streak.The owner has expressed some interest in running the horse at the Travers Stakes but trainer Bob Baffert has expressed reluctance to do so, because his horses have not had a great record there. Either way, Monmouth Park wants him back, after Saratoga or in place of Saratoga but definitely before the Breeders Cup, which will mark American Pharoah’s official retirement from racing. He will then go out to stud.Sound unlikely he’ll return to Monmouth Park? Not according to track officials who say the Zayat family was extremely pleased with the way they handled the Haskell.And so were state senators.“Horse racing has a great tradition in New Jersey and this year’s Haskell Invitational was a showcase event that the state can be proud of,” said Senate President Stephen Sweeney.The Senate resolution similarly honors and congratulates Zayat Stables, the winning New Jersey stable that produced the 12th Triple Crown winner in history American Pharaoh, for their participation in the 48th renewal of the Haskell.“He could have raced anywhere in the country,” Beck explained. “Zayat Stables deserves a lot of credit.”“It was a lot of work for Drazin and his team to make this happen, and they did a perfect job,” said Beck. “I don’t think Monmouth Park has ever looked more beautiful. They managed the traffic well; there was barely any waiting, the concessions were great. People were mesmerized. It was one of a kind.”“It was impressive to be on the Senate floor and to have them say such wonderful things,” said Drazin, the Red Bank lawyer who played a pivotal role in organizing the monstrous event. “They are used to tremendous events like the Super Bowl, which was in New Jersey last year. To hear about what a wonderful job Monmouth Park did, it made us very proud.”While Drazin appreciates the Senate’s recognition for his Haskell work, he is largely focused on the long-term commitment the Senate spoke of.“They spoke of wanting to preserve horse racing and wanting to do more. They want to make sure Monmouth Park has enough revenue. Not only were we proud, but it gave the whole team encouragement about the future through their commitment,” he said.“There has to be a comprehensive, strategic effort to bring back horse racing,” said Beck, “but this shows what is possible.”The resolution “pays tribute to [Monmouth Park’s] meritorious history of service and leadership, and extends best wishes for its continued success,” and after an historic day for Monmouth Park, Monmouth County, and the State of New Jersey, it is hopeful that equestrian industry within the state can build off of this year’s record success.By John Burton and Dillon Stambaugh
Photos by Mark Costa Every summer on the Jersey Shore, the Best Day Foundation hosts about a half dozen special events for some very deserving kids. Children with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and other special needs are paired with two beach buddies from local high schools who help them have their “best day” surfing, boogie boarding and anything else they want to do at the beach, all while staying safe. If the weather is good, they may spend up to 2 1⁄2 hours in the water, followed by an awards ceremony where they receive a medal and high fives for their accomplishments and a lunch provided by Surf Taco. Pictured here is the Asbury Park event which took place June 29 and 30. The next New Jersey event is July 27 and 28 at Brick III Beach, Seneca Dunes, when each day 45 children will partake in tandem surfing, body-boarding, stand up paddling (SUP), kayaking, beach obstacle courses and beach games. Best Day Foundation hosts events in California, Florida, New Jersey and Maryland. Volunteers and sponsors are invited to visit bestdayfoundation.org for more information.
By The Nelson Daily SportsThe Kootenay Wildcats wasted a chance to put some breathing room between them and the Vancouver Fusion.The Cats dropped a pair of one-goal games — both by 3-2 scores — to the Lower Mainland squad last weekend in B.C. Female Midget AAA Hockey League action in Pitt Meadows and Coquitlam. “The Wildcats dominated play against, out shooting Fusion 35-9, (but) again ending up on the losing side of the ledger,” said Kootenay head coach Mario DiBella after the Cats dominated play Sunday.Christina Bonacci and Katie Yuris, both of Trail, scored for the Cats Sunday. Saturday bus legs slowed the Kootenay start as the visitors fell behind 2-0.Hailey McLean put Kootenay on the scoreboard on a fine individual effort. But Vancouver restored the two-goal advantage.Late in the third Bonacci scored on a rebound to bring the Cats to within a goal. But the visitors were unable to find the equalizer. Kootenay finished the game again out shooting Fusion 29-12.The two wins allow Vancouver to leapfrog past Kootenay and into third spot in the BCFMHL standings.The two teams entered the two-game set tied with 16 points.Thompson-Okanagan Rockets lead the league with a 15-3-1 record.Fraser Valley Phantom hold down second spot.Kootenay resumes play Saturday, January 29 when the team plays host to Thompson-Okanagan Rockets at 3:30 p.m. in the Civic Centre Arena.The teams conclude the series Sunday, January 30 at 9 a.m. in the NDCC Arena.email@example.com
Kam Crawford pinched in from the point to slam home a rebound and allowed the Saints to score a 5-4 overtime victory over Thompson Rivers University Friday night in B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League action in Kamloops.”We had good efforts in the first and third periods but got away from working hard in our own zone in the second and paid for that,” said Saints head coach Jeff Dubois. “We put ourselves in a hole but battled back and got a big win on the road. We’ve come from behind late in games a few times this season and there’s a real belief with our group that we can get big goals when we need them.”After 40 minutes highlighted by close calls and missed opportunities, Selkirk College found themselves down a pair of goals on the road to Thompson Rivers University.But a third period rally fueled by goals from Ben Starbuck and Cody Fidgett sent the game to overtime before Crawford provided the heroics. TRU took the first lead of the night just three minutes into regulation when Jarrett Martin took advantage of a poor line change and beat Saints starter Stephen Wolff on a partial breakaway.But Selkirk bounced back minutes later when Jackson Garrett pounced on a rebound and grabbed their first lead of the night late in the first period when Jordan Wood scored shorthanded. The second period saw a series of defensive letdowns in the Selkirk zone and the WolfPack took full advantage, as Kevin Lourens and Jake Howardson each put home from close range following scrambles around the Saints’ crease.And a Colten DeFrias goal 90 seconds into the third period padded the TRU lead before Starbuck, on a power play, and Fidgett, off a nice feed from Jackson Garrett, drew the game level. Wolff picked up his fifth win in as many starts, stopping 30 shots on the night. TRU starter Riley Wall was named the game’s first star with a 50-save performance. Saints’ captain Jordan Wood scored once and added three assists, while linemates Garrett and Logan Proulx combined for another five points. Selkirk is back on the ice Saturday night when they host Simon Fraser University is a first vs. second place battle at the Castlegar Rec Complex. Faceoff is set for 7:30 PM.SAINTS NOTES: With the win on Friday, Selkirk can finish no lower than second in the league standings and is therefore assured of hosting a first round playoff series when the BCIHL postseason begins on March 8th. The top four regular season finishers qualify for the playoffs, with first playing fourth and second meeting third in the first round and winners advancing to the league finals, which will take place from March 15-17. Each playoff series is a best-of-three format.
The British Columbia Hockey League has given Smoke Eaters goaltender Adam Todd an honourable mention for the Gongshow Gear BCHL Player of the Week for the week ending January 13th.Todd, an 18 year-old native of Courtenay, BC, posted two wins last week against Merritt and Penticton, recording a .939 save percentage and 2.31 goals-against average. He was named first star in Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Centennials.Since joining the Smoke Eaters from the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in October, Todd has a record of 10-4, including a shutout January 25 at Nanaimo.Eight of Todd’s 10 victories in a Smoke Eater uniform have come at Cominco Arena, where he holds an 8-1 record.“Adam’s been real steady for us in goal since the holiday break,” said Smoke Eaters head coach/general manager Bill Birks.“He’s earned the right to start most of our recent games due to a strong work ethic and positive results and is a big reason we’re still in the hunt for a playoff spot.”Todd and the Smoke Eaters return to Cominco Arena on Saturday, March 2nd when they host the Penticton Vees. For ticket information, call (250) 368-5000.
Just when the so-called experts are ready to stick a fork in the Nelson Leafs the Heritage City franchise pulls out a big win.Michael Crawford scored the winning goal with 43 seconds remaining in the game to lift Nelson to a thrilling 4-3 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League victory over the front-running Kamloops Storm Saturday in Spoolmak Country.Crawford’s marker was unassisted.A goal by Michael Rand midway through the third period had the teams thinking overtime was looming before Crawford stole the game away for Nelson.Tyler Fyfe and Leaf captain Aaron Dunlap, on the power play, also scored for Nelson, which led 1-0 after one period.Ian Chrystal, Mitch Friesen, both on the power play, and Ryan Keis scored for Kamloops. The host Storm outshot the Leafs 47-36 including a 21-10 margin in the third period when Leaf netminder Adam Maida played solid between the pipes to keep Nelson in the game.The win evened Nelson’s road trip through the Okanagan Shuswap Conference.Friday, Chase Heat scored a 4-1 win over Nelson.The Heat scored three times in the third period to break open a close 1-1 game.Matt MacDonald, on the power play, scored the lone goal for Nelson.Kaleb Boyle, Kolten Moore, with two goals, and Logan Mostat scored for Chase.Nelson now travels to Grand Forks Friday before concluding the regular season Sunday against Castlegar Rebels at 2:30 p.m. in the NDCC Arena.The fourth-place Leafs are tentatively is scheduled to meet defending KIJHL, Cyclone Taylor and Keystone Cup champion Beaver Valley in the first round of the Murdoch Division playoffs.Nelson trails Spokane Braves by two points in Murdoch standings. However, the Braves have played one less game than Nelson.Spokane travels to Grand Forks Tuesday before concluding the season with road games in Sicamous and Kamloops.