When the winter-spring meet concluded on May 18 at Freehold Raceway, Eric Abbatiello had claimed his third straight driving title, Vincent Fusco topped the trainers' standings at the Monmouth County track for the first time and 61 days of racing drew a total of $26 million in wagering.
"Our first half of the year results were mixed,” said Freehold general manager Howard Bruno. "Export wagering on our races was up slightly and wagering at the track on simulcast signals was about even. Average daily live handle was down, reflecting the addition of January–February race dates and a winter season that was not as mild as last year.
"Freehold continues in its struggle to compete with surrounding states and looks to find the right balance to maintain a racing program that interests both horsemen and handicappers.
"Guests should look for some changes on and off the track when we return for live racing Aug. 29.”
The live handle for the 61 days of racing was $3,621,446 on-track ($59,368 daily average) plus $22,408,226 ($367,348 average) "transmission handle” for a total from all sources of $26,029,672 ($426,716 average), according to stats provided by Bruno.
Abbatiello posted 101 wins from 512 starts to capture top driver honors for the third straight Freehold meet. Hall of Famer Cat Manzi was second with 97 wins from 437 starts.
Fusco, who has won titles at Chester and the Meadowlands, harnessed 32 winners from 115 starters to secure his first Freehold training crown. Karen Garland was second with 22 wins from 89 starters.
"I was lucky enough to drive quite a few horses for Vinny,” Abbatiello noted. "I appreciate the drives he gave me.”
The son of Hall of Fame driver Carmine Abbatiello is not going to rest on his Freehold laurels.
"I've already picked up a nice amount of work at Chester and have my own stable racing at Chester and at the Meadowlands,” he explained.
Fusco, from a family of trainers, was delighted to win the title at his "home” track.
"I really want to thank my owners for entrusting me with their horses,” he said. (SBOANJ)