Monmouth Park was buzzing with activity yesterday in preparation for this Saturday, May 10 — opening day of its 69th season of Thoroughbred horse racing. Around the clubhouse area small groups of workers fastidiously planted flowers while inside the grandstand a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place marking the grand opening of the new William Hill Race & Sports Bar. The invitees to the event were certainly charmed with the new facility: one-hundred flat-screen televisions and impressive granite bar.
Of course, the areas that accommodate the public are a necessity for a great horse racing experience for all of the fans. But what takes place behind the scenes is the pulse and the heart of Monmouth Park. Since early April, at the Monmouth Park backstretch — where the barns are located — grooms, trainers, assistants, exercise riders, countless other workers and, of course, the horses (about 1,000 so far) have been preparing for the 2014 season. Without these diligent individuals, whose springs and summers are spent immersed in the care and training of horses, and the New Jersey breeders, who are committed year-round to the birth, care and raising of the magnificent Thoroughbred foals that come to be known as “New Jersey-Breds” — there would be no racing at Monmouth Park.
The workers, trainers, assistants, breeders, stallion owners, vets and others who have committed their lives to Thoroughbred horse racing may seem like ordinary people, but they are truly extraordinary in the way they approach their work. These are not nine-to-five jobs. Many of the workers who care for the horses, for example, live in small flats at the racetrack for the season. Trainers moving from one track to another may find a rental home or live with friends. Vets make barn calls around the clock. Breeders run farms where mares foal during the coldest of months in the middle of the night. The equines must be monitored 24/7. These people spend each and every day and night caring for their horses. It’s a way of life that is foreign to the majority of New Jersey residents.
Meet the new Jersey-breds and their people competing on opening day at Monmouth Park
Gerri Kromann of Edgemont Farm in Perrineville is geared up with her Jersey-bred four-year-old gelding named Thenewmanintown who is being trained by her husband, Lloyd Kromann. Kromann is a graded stakes winning trainer whose earnings per start average $3,600. Thenewmanintown is out of a Sweet Cali Cat mare who just had a filly by the stallion Scipion and a yearling filly by the stallion Love of Money.
The Kromann’s Edgemont Farm is a genuine family affair. Gerri and her husband Lloyd have been New Jersey breeders and farm owners for the past twenty-five years and now Gerri and her son work as a team to breed horses while Lloyd does the training. “This is the third farm in Monmouth County that my husband and I have owned,” explained Gerri.
Millie Fleming is a horse owner and breeder with three New Jersey-breds this year. “I’m so nervous and excited,” exclaimed Millie when asked how she felt about the upcoming weekend. “I’ve got three horses being trained by Pat McBurney: Chaser and Padre Graz are three-year-olds that will race this Saturday and Miles Together is my four-year-old,” she said. (CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE TO PAGE TWO OF THIS ARTICLE)