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NFL Star Turns Racehorse Owner

Published: July 18, 2013 11:19 pm ET

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He was a star receiver during his 11 years in the NFL with the New York Jets and now Wayne Chrebet is hoping to find the same success as the owner of standardbred racehorses.

Chrebet was at Tioga Downs in Upstate New York on Thursday night, watching his two-year-old trotting colt, Lukas Hall, race in the Tompkins Memorial Stakes.

“Nothing replaces the rush of playing or running out of the tunnel,” said Chrebet, who retired in 2005 as the second-leading receiver in Jets franchise history. “But it’s a minute and 51 second rush. When they’re turning for home and you’re second over or you’re on the lead, your chest gets pounding and that’s part of the reason I’m in it.”

Lukas Hall finished third in a division won by Credit Fashion, following a fifth-place finish and third-place finish in his two previous starts. Chrebet owns the horse in partnership with Jeffrey Gural, the owner of Tioga Downs.

Chrebet said he has been involved as an owner for 10 years, at one point owning as many as 15 horses. Now, he owns a trio of two-year-old horses.

“I moved down to Colts Neck in New Jersey, which is horse country,” said Chrebet. "I went to Freehold Raceway one day and I decided to get a horse. Then I found Kevin McDermott, he’s my trainer now and my best friend. We had some success early, then bought some younger horses and we’re still going.”

Not only has Chrebet been bitten by the racing bug, his family is along for the ride too. Chrebet was joined at Tioga Downs by his family, including son Lukas, who serves as the racehorse’s namesake.

“It’s a family thing for me,” said Chrebet. “The reason I bought a New York horse is so we can go to all the New York tracks together, we like to travel like that.”

After a football career that saw Chrebet go from undrafted out of Hofstra University to having his jersey retired by the Jets, the 39-year-old sums up his racing goals very simply.

“Hopefully, we have some luck together.”

Tioga Downs' special Thursday evening racing program featured four divisions of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes for two-year-old trotting colts and three divisions for two-year-old filly trotters.

Flyhawk El Durado and Cat Manzi posted the fastest mile of the night winning his colt division in a new lifetime-best of 1:57.3. Manzi got away third with Flyhawk El Durado as Consumer Rate (Jim Morrill Jr.) put up fractions of :28.3 and :58. Down the backside, Manzi moved Flyhawk El Durado first over through a third panel in :29.2 with the field reaching the three-quarters mark in 1:27.2. Around the final turn, Flyhawk El Durado still had plenty of work to do as the deficit was seven lengths at the third quarter station. At the top of the stretch, he was tracking the leader and used a :28.4 final panel to get up for victory by three parts of a length. Mark Ford trains the son of Conway Hall and El Paso Gal for Martin Scharf, who recently purchased Flyhawk El Durado from his former connections. Consumer Rate hung tough to finish second while Fashion Crazy (Matt Kakaley) finished third.

L Dees Scripture and Andy Miller posted the fastest mile of the night for fillies in her first pari-mutuel start in 1:58.3. Miller sent the daughter of Credit Winner and Graceful Way to the front through fractions of :29.4, 1:00.3 and 1:30 before cruising home with a final panel clocked in :28.3.

Other division winners for the fillies included: Love Detective (Jimmy Takter) in 1:59 and Winning Pursuit (Jim Morrill Jr.) in 1:59. Other colt division winners included: Big Bang Hanover (Matt Kakaley) in 1:59.2, Credit Fashion (Matt Kakaley) in 1:58, and Starsaboveallerage (Paul Macdonell) in 1:58.4.

Tioga Downs continues live racing action on Friday, July 19 with a post time of 6:50 p.m. when two-year-old pacers begin the "Geers" portion of the 2013 Tompkins-Geers Grand Circuit stakes.

(With files from Tioga Downs)

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