New Jersey Has Horses?
Who loves to watch the Kentucky Derby? I do, I do! Most people in the US think of horse racing or major equestrian events they think of Kentucky, Florida, and California. But I want you to know that New Jersey holds a long and beautiful history with horses, and it continues on to this day?
Monmouth County, New Jersey
Living in Monmouth County, New Jersey has a multitude of benefits. I live 15 minutes from the beach. Although in close proximity to the ocean, I live in green space and farms.
However, I technically live in the suburbs of NYC, only 45 minutes by ferry ride. It’s perfection. I joke with my husband that it’s no wonder everyone who grows up here eventually comes back. That’s not to say all of New Jersey is gorgeous. Anyone flying into Newark Airport sees the port and thinks that is all our state has to offer.
A while ago I was doing research for another post and found that the state animal of New Jersey is the horse. New Jersey has a rich history with equines. In fact, the first racetrack in the United States was in Monmouth County- Freehold Raceway, which began operating in the 1830’s. Even closer to my home is well-known Monmouth Park, originally named Long Brach Racetrack.
Since 1968, Monmouth Park’s marquee event has been the Haskell Invitational, the major race between the Triple Crown and Breeders Cup series. Amory Haskell was instrumental in bringing racing back to New Jersey in the 1940s. In fact, this year’s Kentucky Derby contender, Irish War Cry, is a New Jersey-bred thoroughbred owned by Amory Haskell’s daughter.
Horses Throughout the Garden State
Not all horse racing forums are limited to Monmouth County. One of the more famous racetracks is at The Meadowlands. The Meadowlands became a venue for harness racing and thoroughbred racing the in the 1970’s. But, historically there has been horse racing in Newark, Hoboken, Atlantic City, and more.
The Garden State doesn’t limit itself to thoroughbred racing. Perhaps lesser known nationally, but infamous in the New York Metro area, is The Hunt. Yet, this is not to be confused with the local Haskell Hunt held in Middletown until 1996. The Hunt is a steeplechase race currently held in Far Hills, NJ each October, and was originally a fox hunting event in northern New Jersey as far back as 1870.
Finally, ever heard of Jersey Fresh International? An Olympic-level International three-day event held every year at the Horse Park of New Jersey.
I moved to New Jersey by way of Washington State and California as a young child and spent most of my life here. I’ve traveled the world and am always amazed at the reputation of New Jersey. Recently a friend brought her dog from New York City for me to massage. She had never spent much time in New Jersey. Her shock that it was beautiful was apparent.
New Jersey has a rich history of equestrian pursuits. Interestingly, it also has the most horses per square mile out of any other state. It’s called “The Garden State” for a reason.