Less than one month after the opening of the $265,000,000 Hard Rock Rocksino, Northfield Park has announced the creation of the $500,000 Carl Milstein Memorial to be raced on Friday, Aug. 15. The Milstein Memorial is an early-closer for 3-year-old-colt-and-gelding pacers. Northfield will add $250,000 to the purse, for an estimated $400,000 Final and a $100,000 Consolation. The top eight purse earners in 2014 that enter will make up the field for the final, with the next eight drawing into the consolation.
Carl Milstein owned and operated Northfield from 1984 until his death in 1999. His son, Brock Milstein, took over as Chairman of Northfield Park upon his passing and is now the Chairman of Milstein Entertainment, LLC, majority owner of the Hard Rock Rocksino and Northfield Park.
In 1972, the senior Milstein, a Cleveland real estate developer, headed a group of several partners, including George Steinbrenner, which purchased Northfield Park. They leased the facility to other operators through the early 1980's. The track lost significant amounts of money through that era before Milstein took full ownership and control. In late 1984 Milstein successfully applied to the Ohio State Racing Commission for the necessary licenses and ran the race meetings in 1985.
Over the next 15 years, Milstein was the driving force behind a resurgence of the beleaguered track, which ascended to among harness racing's top tracks in attendance and handle. He was an innovator in promotions and advertising and successfully led the track into the era of simulcast racing.
"Of all my father's achievements over a 50-year career, no business project was closer to his heart than the resurrection of Northfield Park,” said Brock Milstein. "He would be immensely proud to host this great event here at Northfield Park.”
"Northfield Park is here today because Carl Milstein saved it,” said Tom Aldrich, Vice Chairman of Milstein Entertainment. "He worked tirelessly to the end of his life to make Northfield a better place and a leader in the industry. The horsemen knew it, his employees knew it and, most importantly, the fans knew it. He is revered to this day.”
Dave Bianconi, Executive Vice President of Racing and Simulcasting at Northfield, recalls that Mr. Milstein always respected hard work and the everyday challenges and rewards of racing year-round. "That's why we still race 214 dates,” Bianconi laughed. "But he especially loved the excitement and pageantry of the big national events that brought the sport's best horsemen and horses to the Cleveland area. So it is fitting that this great three-year-old pace honors his memory.”
"We have talked about naming a race the ‘Carl Milstein Memorial' for years,” continued Bianconi. "But we didn't just want to re-name one of our existing stakes. When the opportunity came up to procure a top-level event for sophomore pacing colts in the heart of the summer, we jumped at the chance. To put Carl's name on it, it had to be our best race – an absolutely premier event. That is why we went all out with $250,000 added.”
Northfield plans on making the Carl Milstein Memorial an annual event. "Besides complementing our other major stakes in April, July and December [the $100,000 Courageous Lady, $150,000 Battle of Lake Erie and $150,000 Cleveland Classic, respectively], it is in a perfect spot between other major races on this year's three-year-old calendar,” added Bianconi. "I just heard about the availability of that time frame for the race earlier this week. Thanks to Tom Charters and Callie-Davies Gooch at the Hambletonian Society for helping me make the race a reality for 2014.”
The first of four payments for the $500,000 Carl Milstein Memorial is a nominating fee due February 15. (Northfield)