Dr. King Jr. Pace Friday at Big M
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The Meadowlands will honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a special event Friday night, when they host a race that will feature African-American drivers exclusively in the first of 14 races on the card. Post time is 7:15 p.m.
Mike Cruse’s name will be one of the more recognizable to Meadowlands' regulars. During his career, he’s won 282 races, the most recent coming at the Big M in May of last year when he and Mr Heaven hit the wire six lengths to the good in 1:51.
Yes, he is ready to compete, but also anxious to remind all fans why the event is taking place: To honor the birthday of the slain civil rights leader.
“Dr. King was always adamant about a better quality of life for black Americans,” said Cruse of Dr. King, who was born on Jan. 15, 1929, “and not only black Americans, but better quality of life for all Americans. He was a powerful guy. We have a lot of admiration for him.”
When the question of the lack of black participants in harness racing was raised, Cruse explained that they are there, just not in the high-visibility jobs.
“I just think it’s the way we position ourselves in the business,” he said, “there are a lot of black farriers, grooms and caretakers.
“We are all highly enthused about the race,” said Cruse of himself and the nine drivers he’ll do battle with, “a lot of the black drivers don’t have the opportunity to drive in the limelight of the Meadowlands. Everyone wants to race at the mecca of the sport.”
Cruse is hopeful that the action will be fast and furious – at the windows. “I would like to see everyone come out and bet the race,” he said, “we are a competitive field of drivers. You can’t bet your Tetricks or your Callahans in here. It’s a gambler’s paradise. Anyone can win the race.”
Cruse will be the guest on “In the Sulky”, which can be seen Friday night at 6:45 p.m. on the live simulcast presentation of “Racing from the Meadowlands.” (Meadowlands)