Thomas Luchento, president of the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey, was presented the Governor’s Trophy as co-Horseperson of the Year for 2010 at the New Jersey Equine Advisory Board’s 54th Annual New Jersey Breeders Awards Luncheon at Charley’s Other Brother Restaurant in Eastampton Township, NJ on Sunday, January 30, 2011.
Luchento shared the honor with Dennis Drazin, chairman of the New Jersey Racing Commission and former president of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association of New Jersey.
“I am most appreciative of this award and congratulate Dennis as well,” said Luchento, who received the award from Dr. Karyn Malinowski of the Rutgers Equine Science Center and Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Al Murray. “It has been a challenging year in which I had to wear the hat of lobbyist as well as horseman. I had to be as comfortable in the halls of the State House as I once was sitting behind a horse.
“We are at a crossroads for racing in New Jersey,” noted Luchento. “We came to the brink of losing the Meadowlands the first of this year and were fortunate enough to have the legislative support of many outstanding members of the state senate and assembly. As most of you know, our reprieve is only for three months as we work with members of the financial community to come up with the funding to lease and rebuild the Meadowlands.
“We are most appreciative of the support we have received from the entire equine community in New Jersey,” Luchento added. “You were there with us in Atlantic City, the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park for the Summits on Gaming as we made our case to the legislators; you sent in checks to TrotPAC, our political action committee; you used your clout to reach out to decision makers on our behalf, and I hope we can continue to count on you. The future of nearly 15,000 jobs and 174,000 acres of equine related property are at stake.”
Luchento, 64, of Freehold, NJ, has been president of the SBOANJ for six years, filling the role once occupied by his mentor, Hall of Fame trainer, first SBOANJ president and current New Jersey Racing Commissioner Anthony Abbatiello.
A graduate of Madison Township [now Old Bridge] High School started his own stable when he was 20 and competed at Atlantic City Raceway, Freehold and the Meadowlands.
In 1989, Luchento opened Luchento’s Country Italian Restaurant on Route 33 in Millstone, NJ, walking distance to the training centers at Gaitway and Showplace Farms. The restaurant thrived under the management of the Luchento family for more than 18 years and was sold in the fall of 2008.
Luchento has always been a “Good Guy” and received the 2008 Stanley Dancer Media Award, presented by the New Jersey Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association.
The Dancer Award honors an individual whose efforts on behalf of racing and cooperation with the media are in keeping with the example set by the late Hall of Fame driver and trainer Stanley Dancer of New Egypt. (NJSBOA)