New Jersey State Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin spent part of his Monday morning (May 16) at Gaitway Farm Training Center, where he toured the grounds, talked with horsemen and horsewomen, and even climbed into a double-seated jog cart for a trip around the farm’s one-mile track.
Speaker Coughlin’s visit, which included a fundraiser and brunch, was hosted by the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey and TrotPAC. Speaker Coughlin’s support was vital to the five-year, $100-million appropriation for the state’s horse racing industry that was approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in 2019.
Prior to brunch, Speaker Coughlin watched horses jog and train on the farm’s multiple tracks as well as swim in the centre’s pool. He also visited the Backstretch Community Assistance Program clinic run by Dr. Chris Samaha before joining trainer Julie Miller to jog three-year-old New Jersey-bred female trotter Spendthemoneyhoney.
“I thought the event was very well received by Speaker Coughlin,” said Miller, who is an SBOANJ director. “He really enjoyed the hands-on experience of getting to jog a horse with me and I think he was impressed with the horse as a professional athlete. Getting to see them jog, getting to see them swim, feeding them carrots, it all made an impact. He got to see everything we do with the horses every day at a training centre.”
Speaker Coughlin’s first visit to any equine facility in the state came in 2019 when he attended an SBOANJ event to support his re-election campaign at Fair Winds Farm and the Hogan Equine Clinic.
“These events are critical because they let Speaker Coughlin to see firsthand the impact and importance of our industry to the state,” said Mark Ford, SBOANJ President. “Working with our legislators, and maintaining their trust and backing, is crucial as we strive to protect and enhance our future in the years to come.
“I really want to thank Speaker Coughlin for spending time with us, listening to us and enjoying his time with the horses.”
Speaker Coughlin, a Democrat representing the 19th Legislative District in Middlesex County, has served in the State Assembly since 2010. He is in his third term as Assembly Speaker and is the first Democratic Assembly Speaker to ever serve three consecutive two-year terms.
Responsibilities of the Speaker include scheduling meetings and determining which bills will be considered within the Assembly. The Speaker also leads the legislative sessions. As the Assembly Speaker, he is third in the line of succession to the governorship, following the Lieutenant Governor and State Senate President.
“This was the third time I’ve had one-on-one conversations with him, and he asks great questions,” said Miller. “I really enjoy that about him, and he is interested in the explanations.
“I was really happy with Monday’s event and appreciate the generosity of the horsemen in supporting Speaker Coughlin. I’m proud of the way everyone has gotten on board to make sure we do all we can to keep this appropriation going for New Jersey.”