Updated: Manzi Remains Hospitalized

Published: January 14, 2014 12:32 pm EST

Freehold Raceway General Manager Howard Bruno has said that driver Cat Manzi remains hospitalized in New Jersey after the serious accident which occurred this past Friday at Freehold Raceway.

The other four drivers – Debra Rucker, Jim Pantaleano, Chris Scicluna, Vincent Ginsburg – that were taken to hospital have been released.

As reported earlier, Manzi is at the medical centre after having suffered a punctured left lung and multiple rib fractures in the accident.

Bruno has told the Asbury Park Press that Rucker was admitted to the Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune and was receiving treatment “for a hematoma of the leg and a concussion” before being released.

(With files from the Asbury Park Press)



I can only imagine how the Driver of this starting car feels. As a former start car driver myself, I can firmly tell you the following -having driven the same track conditions hundreds of times....when it rains, especially in volumes like this scene, the Track Maintenance Crew will often, between races, come onto the track and "drag" the track with a screen. In an effort to remove the hoof prints the horses both in the previous race and the horses warming up have left behind in the slop, to lessen the danger of injury to the horses and,to give the next group of horses to race down on the rail a better/smoother surface to travel over.
However, .....the practice of doing this....does nothing but compromise the safety and ability of the starting car to get away from the field on the word "GO"!
While the screen is indeed removing the hoof prints from the slop, it is also drawing all the water to the surface of the racetrack. There is no Tire Company in the world that can guarantee it's products performance with water packed treads. Track size dictates where a starter and the car release a field....that most often happens either going into a turn or coming out of one, on half mile and five eights mile tracks. When the tire treads get water packed/logged...that car/truck will start to hydro plane. The driver feels it immediately. Moving that steering wheel one inch trying to correct - represents moving that car and it's wings and weight one foot at a time on the track. All you need then is some hot headed 1200 pounds- face planted somewhere on the gate behind you.... pushing the wings/gate to get out of there! ( especially common in a field of trotters )
When those circumstances come together and happen, your gone. The best you can hope for is not to hurt anyone.

I genuinely hope that no one lays blame on either the starting car driver or the starter himself for this tragedy. ( unless there's a circumstance no one is aware of ) Unbeknownst to most, Starters and their partner Car Drivers get enough grief for things that are beyond their control. Take it from my own years of experience.....These guys have nerve and guts of steel. They know their jobs and their track conditions. They do everything in their capacity to avoid this kind of thing and are often forced by either management,racing associations and horseman alike....to just "carry" on and make the best of a rainy night - to keep the show going.
These Guys and Gals have my utmost respect and always will. I can only hope they don't blame themselves for too long. I know there doing so now. Get well soon boys.

Been There, Done That ....and Cr*pped myself a few times doing the job...
Lynda Portelance