Press Release

For Immediate Release
Aug 26, 2009
Contact : Michael Valentino  
732-751-7538
mvalentino@meridianhealth.com

Steeplechase Racing Returns To Benefit Meridian Health

Monmouth Park-Meridian Health Steeplechase Festival set for September 26 revives a horse racing tradition not experienced in Monmouth County for over 15 years  

Neptune, NJ -  A unique day of racing is set for September 26 at Monmouth Park with the arrival of the Monmouth Park-Meridian Health Steeplechase Festival, the first steeplechase event held in the region in over 15 years. Otherwise known as jump racing, steeplechase racing features a series of jumps and obstacles, and is most often held at official “race meetings” held throughout the country. The Monmouth Park-Meridian Health Steeplechase Festival marks a return of the steeplechase racing tradition that was beloved in Monmouth County through an event formerly known as the Monmouth Hunt, which benefited charitable organizations in the community.

Presented in partnership with the National Steeplechase Association, the Monmouth Park-Meridian Health Steeplechase Festival will bring the excitement of steeplechase racing back to the community, with the proceeds from the day benefiting patient care programs at Meridian Health’s medical centers, which include Jersey Shore University Medical Center and K. Hovnanian Children’s Medical Center in Neptune, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, and Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank.

“The Monmouth Park-Meridian Health Steeplechase Festival will be a distinctive day of racing that hasn’t been seen at Monmouth in a generation,” said Dennis Robinson, president and CEO of the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, which operates the racetrack. “We are very proud to partner with Meridian Health and the National Steeplechase Association to make this not only an exciting day of racing, but a wonderful day that benefits the entire community.” “We are thrilled to help bring the excitement of steeplechase racing back to the community in a way that benefits the patients and families we serve throughout the community,” says John K. Lloyd, FACHE, president of Meridian Health. “Health care providers like Meridian rely on community support to advance our charitable mission. We hope the success of this year’s event will be the beginning of a great new tradition that benefits the health of our community for years to come.”

The Race is On Not your ordinary day of racing at Monmouth Park, the Monmouth Park-Meridian Health Steeplechase Festival will be an exciting day with the first steeplechase races this community has seen in close to 15 years, as well as many family friendly activities and entertainment to make this a unique and memorable experience.

The day begins at Monmouth Park with traditional flat races, followed by steeplechase races. Grandstand and Picnic Area seating will remain available at Monmouth Park that day, but the steeplechase event festivities will take place in the Clubhouse of Monmouth Park.

Tickets begin at $35 for preferred seating that comes with prime seat location and an all-day barbeque. $200 tickets provide access to an exclusive rooftop buffet and premium open bar overlooking the race action, and $1,200 luxury parterre boxes provide a bird’s eye view, tableside waiter service and gourmet menu for six. Special sponsorship packages are also available, with the proceeds benefiting the medical centers and programs of Meridian Health.

“This event would not be possible without the tremendous help and support from Dennis Drazin and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association,” says Robinson. “We continue to appreciate their commitment to world-class racing at Monmouth Park and their selflessness to create a better community in which to live and work.”

Reviving the Tradition With a rich history of horse breeding and racing, Monmouth County was the home to a beloved steeplechase horse racing tradition, with horses from around the country competing in what was commonly known as the Monmouth Hunt.

For decades, the annual event was and supported by many dedicated individuals from the community, featuring an exciting day of steeplechase horse racing and raising charitable funds for local not-for-profit organizations, including local hospitals. A grassroots group, including several individuals connected to the original Monmouth Hunt, Senator Joe Kyrillos, Monmouth Park, and the Meridian Health Foundation, are leading the effort to bring the steeplechase racing tradition back to our community through the Steeplechase Festival.

“Many from throughout this community have very fond memories of the Hunt, and have been working for several years toward bringing the tradition back,” says Senator Kyrillos. “It’s a horse racing event that has a great heritage and tradition, and for decades was a significant supporter of charitable service in the region. We are excited to see it return now in support of Meridian Health, one of the leading not-for-profit health care providers serving this region.”

“The original Hunt was supported by many dedicated individuals and families who had a love of racing and a love for this community,” says Lloyd. “That dedication lives on today as this new event takes shape.”

What is Steeplechase Racing? Steeplechase racing includes all the thrills and speed of horse racing at flat tracks. It mixes in the precision of jumping to create a hybrid not unlike hurdle events in track and field where the premium is on speed, but the concern is focused squarely on the jumps. The races are between two and four miles in length. The fences are 52-inch hurdles called National Fences or timber jumps constructed of posts and rails at varying heights. Thoroughbred horses, almost all of them converted flat racers, compete at 33 National Steeplechase Association stops and at some of the nation's finest racetracks.

“Steeplechasing occurs in 12 states as far south as Florida and as far north as upstate New York, seen by hundreds of thousands of people, includes the best horses and horsemen thoroughbred racing has to offer, and each year raises millions of dollars for charity,” says Louis J. Raffetto, Jr., chief executive officer, National Steeplechase Association. “It’s a wonderful event to experience and we are thrilled to partner with an organization like Meridian Health to bring it back to Monmouth County.”

Just the Beginning Steeplechase race meetings across the country attract thousands of spectators and raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for their charitable causes. Steeplechase Festival organizers anticipate the September 26 event to be the first step toward an event on par with other well-known steeplechase meetings.

“The stars really aligned to bring together the forces to make this event happen in a tight timeframe this year,” says David L. Flood, president, Meridian Health Foundation. “Steeplechase meetings are highly complex to organize, and so this year, we are grateful to have the support of Monmouth Park and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association to help begin bringing this great sixty-six year tradition back to the community.”

“The Monmouth Park-Meridian Health Steeplechase Festival is really just the beginning of what is possible for the next generation of steeplechase racing in Monmouth County,” says Lloyd. “This event is about the community, and so we hope that everyone enjoys this year’s event and we will be very interested in hearing feedback to help grow the event in the future.”

For tickets and information on available sponsorship packages, please call 877-748-4667. For more information, please visit www.MeridianSteeplechase.com or www.MonmouthPark.com.

Monmouth Park-Meridian Health Steeplechase Festival Honorary Committee Meredyth Armitage John F. Croddick Virginia Croddick Domenic M. DiPiero III Dennis Drazin Betsy Moody Schmalz Ferguson David L. Flood, president, Meridian Health Foundation Mollie Giamanco Thomas G. Gravina Hope Haskell Jones Robert S. Jones, Jr. George Kolber, chairperson, Meridian Health Foundation Robert J. Kulina Senator Joseph Kyrillos John K. Lloyd, FACHE, president, Meridian Health Edward J. McKenna, Jr. Mindy Minerva Bruce Rodman Anita Roselle Chrisie Scott Carol Stillwell Todd E. Thompson Stevens V.V. Thompson

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