Pharoah’s Weekend Morning Workouts a Hit

first_imgOCEANPORT, August 6 – Vincent Carlesimo, who was up early last Friday, looked across the racetrack, listening to the roar of the crowd and excitement that was running like electricity through Monmouth Park.“You asked how big is it. Do you hear that?” he asked. “This is the biggest thing to happen in horse racing in New Jersey. This is huge.”Carlesimo, a resident of Wall, who is part owner of his own thoroughbred racehorse, Gorgeous Sunrise, joined his co-owner, Manchester resident Anthony Petrocelli, along with an estimated 5,000 race fans starting at about 7 a.m. last Friday to witness the exercise session for Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah prior to the horse’s win on Sunday, taking Monmouth Park’s William Hill Haskell Invitational and its record $1.75 million purse.Rumson’s Lisa Wilson did the “Dawn Patrol,” as the track calls it, on Saturday and was duly impressed, by it all. “To be able to just drive up, park and be able to walk in for free and watch horses exercise it’s fantastic,” she said. “And to see American Pharoah was wonderful.”Wilson, like many others, offered her appreciation of the park as well: “It’s just a beautiful place and I’m grateful it’s still here and operational. It’s just a wonderful thing to have in the area.”Petrocelli saw the attention the champion 3 year-old thoroughbred was garnering in his stay at Monmouth Park and believed it could only help the racetrack, which has been struggling in recent years. “This will expose people to Monmouth Park who might not normally come,” he believed.“Hopefully, it’ll motivate politicians to do what needs to be done to save horse racing,” Carlesimo said. He was referring to the push by horseracing proponents and especially Monmouth Park supporters to get legislation passed that would meet federal court muster to allow for sports gambling at tracks as well as at casinos. Proponents believe the addition al revenue stream would mean life’s blood for tracks. And that influx would allow Monmouth Park operators to move forward with an ambitious plan that would hopefully make the park a year-round family destination.American Pharoah took his early morning run, twice around the length of the track and there was a palpable sense of excitement among track denizens and the merely curious.“He’s a rock star,” said Carlesimo, who watched the exercise session from the prime vantage point of a small viewing section by the stables. And only at a racetrack could the public get as close to the world-class sport’s super star, he stressed. “How close can you get to Derek Jeter?” he asked.Mark Rubenstein, a former horse owner, said, “This is the moment you look for, a once in-a-lifetime experience.”Rubenstein also was impressed by the crowd on hand. “That’s a good crowd for a Friday race day,” to say nothing of 7:30 a.m., he observed.“I can now say I saw a Triple Crown winner,” said Brandon Iribarne, a 22-year-old Long Branch resident who works as a “hot walker,” cooling the horses down after a run, and as a exercise rider. Having such a name entity here, “It’s good for the sport; it’s good for the track,” Iribarne maintained.“Just seeing him gives me goose bumps,” acknowledged Al DeVito, a former horse owner. “Amazing.”“It’s a real big deal. It hasn’t happened before,” what was going on at Monmouth Park, said a security guard, who asked not be identified because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.By that he meant no New Jersey track has had a winner of the coveted Triple Crown (the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes) appear before.Prior to the first race post time, track attendees at about 12:50 p.m. had another chance to see American Pharoah, as he was paraded through the paddock area.Standing in the hot sun, pressed against the paddock’s fence, Highlands resident Alexis Rogel said, “It’s worth it.“To be so close and not come,” said Rogel, who was celebrating her birthday, “shame on you,” to miss it.American Pharoah’s assistant trainer, Jimmy Barnes said the horse would have a light workout on Saturday and then rest for much of the day for Sunday’s race.American Pharoah won a comfortable victory over a field of six others at about 6 p.m. Sunday.The Haskell would be one of the horse’s final races. In the coming months, American Pharoah would run in possibly up to three more contests – including this year’s Breeder’s Cup – and then “he’ll definitely retire this year,” Barnes said.last_img

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