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Bruno Issues Release On Freehold Accident, Meeting

Published: January 17, 2014 11:52 am ET

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On Friday, January 17, Freehold Raceway General Manager Howard Bruno issued a statement in regard to both the serious accident which took place at the New Jersey oval last week and the subsequent meeting with members of the track’s racing community.

Horses involved in the Jan. 10 accident were lucky to escape major injury when Freehold’s starting gate car veered out of control as it headed into the first turn over the sloppy track. The car veered directly into the path of the field of horses. As a result, drivers were taken to hospital. Drivers Cat Manzi and Debra Rucker sustained injuries which led to them to be hospitalized.

In response to the accident, officials from Freehold Raceway, the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey and local horsepeople met to discuss the accident and other general issues.

“Our expectation and understanding of this meeting was to have direct, one-on-one conversation with horsemen, without third parties, to promote a healthy exchange and dialogue from both sides,” Bruno said in his release.

Bruno went on to say, “Regarding the January 10 starting gate incident, we have been conducting an investigation and continue to seek out additional information. We are aware that the New Jersey Racing Commission is also conducting an investigation and we are cooperating fully with any requests. We are grateful that the majority of individuals and horses escaped serious injury and our thoughts and support go out to all of those involved in this accident and wish them a speedy recovery.”

The contents of Bruno’s release appear below.


Statement from Freehold Raceway on Meeting with Horsemen and Members of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association on Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Howard Bruno, General Manager, Freehold Raceway:

We appreciated the opportunity to speak with the Freehold-based horsemen on Wednesday afternoon regarding the incident that occurred last Friday (January 10) and any concerns the group had in general with racing at Freehold Raceway. Our expectation and understanding of this meeting was to have direct, one-on-one conversation with horsemen, without third parties, to promote a healthy exchange and dialogue from both sides.

Regarding the January 10 starting gate incident, we have been conducting an investigation and continue to seek out additional information. We are aware that the New Jersey Racing Commission is also conducting an investigation and we are cooperating fully with any requests. We are grateful that the majority of individuals and horses escaped serious injury and our thoughts and support go out to all of those involved in this accident and wish them a speedy recovery.

Freehold Raceway takes seriously any constructive comments regarding the racetrack and overall safety concerns expressed by horsemen. As most are aware, winter racing in general, and especially during these most recent few weeks, has brought extreme weather conditions to the Mid-Atlantic region. We have confidence in Mike Fagliarone and his team in meeting these challenges. I pledged at the meeting we would continue to work with the SBOA and we will look at possible outside experts to review our track and maintenance procedures with an eye for continued improvement. I also expect that the SBOA will follow up on our request to create a more formalized protocol to proactively address any concerns regarding track or racing conditions going forward. Without any direct feedback it is difficult to take appropriate actions.

Finally, I have made myself available to any member of the media that has wished to speak to me directly on the details of last Friday’s incident or on any other matter involving Freehold. We will certainly keep the racing community apprised of any further developments, but want to ensure all participants that we share the same goal of a fair, consistent and safe racing experience for all involved.”


Related Stories

Freehold, Horsemen Meet; Manzi Out Of Hospital
Updated: Manzi Remains Hospitalized
Update On Freehold Accident


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