gsp may 4 2001 (2)
COURIER-POST, COURIER-POST, COURIER-POST, Friday, May 4, 2001 7A Garden State Park Racing to the finish BOB RINGHAMCourier Post A race fan studies his charts Thursday, looking for a winner on the final live race card ever at Garden State Park In Cherry Hill. More than 4,000 people about four times the average attendance attendance were on hand to say goodbye to the once-glamorous once-glamorous once-glamorous once-glamorous racetrack. Sg "-y "-y "-y '-1 '-1 '-1 ' in i,' 1 jyl 'f'jj'' Auction at track planned for June M ii m Mil ;;, - 1 " -? -? ti.1tutA ' - ' One last day of racing at the park 41MP.ll IIIU.IJnMPpMWil.'lIWIl.l "-1 "-1 "-1 ... , H'HU.U ,v .1 . t ::) 4 Courier-Post Courier-Post Courier-Post Staff CHERRY HILL Race fans can buy a piece of Garden Stiito Park at an auction next month that will offer everything from artwork and memorabilia memorabilia to barn equipment and elevators. The June 22-26 22-26 22-26 event will be held at the track's sales pavilion building, the maintenance maintenance area buildings and the Phoenix Restaurant atop the grandstand. "We anticipate approximately approximately 5,000 people to attend attend each day," said Barbara Barbara Akins of Ken Geyer Real Estate Auctioneers of Gil-bertsvllle, Gil-bertsvllle, Gil-bertsvllle, Pa. Bidders will compete for track memorabilia, including including an antique scale for jockeys jockeys and vintage advertisements. advertisements. They can also buy artwork like the track's bronze racehorse statues. But the five-day five-day five-day sale also will peddle the track's 1 wm&sz . 7 r iSMU -ihp -ihp am r&l v W k "wJ 'II" in iw J JOSE F. MORENOCourier-Post MORENOCourier-Post MORENOCourier-Post Brothers Brandon (left) and Joshua Madden of Gloucester Township get autographs from Jock- Jock- bob RiNGHAMcourier-Post RiNGHAMcourier-Post RiNGHAMcourier-Post ey Willie Martinez. Roberto Rosado (left) waits for his second-race second-race second-race mount, Captain No Name. Photos by JOSE F. MORENOCourier-Post MORENOCourier-Post MORENOCourier-Post Winning the sixth race (left), R Sassy Lady, with Jose E. Castanon up, edges Caremeby, Nick San-tagata San-tagata San-tagata up. Rlemon Gonzales (right) waits to lead the horses to the starting starting gate under the watchful eyes of final final day fans (below). .4 ii y$Zy hardware tractors and tools, lighting and tote boards, restaurant equipment equipment and marble walls, The auction's schedule: June 22 art items. June 23 ' trucks, tools, office furniture and exercise equipment. June 24 restaurant equipment (small), china, linens, pots, pans and audiovisual audiovisual equipment. June 25 large restaurant restaurant equipment. June 26 building components, marble, elevators, elevators, etc. The art auction will begin begin at 6 p.m. All other sales are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pre bid inspection hours will be held June 21 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and June 22 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. An art preview with wine and cheese will be held June 22 from 4 to 6 p.m. All purchases must be removed by July 2. For more information, call (800) 554-5005. 554-5005. 554-5005. FarewellOfficials look to future of landmark site Continued from Page 1A ues through May 29. Jack DuArte, director of the Thoroughbred Breeders Association in Crosswicks, started contemplating Garden Garden State's impending passing passing on the opening day of the last meet "I've stood there, enjoying enjoying the nice breeze, thinking thinking about how futuristic this place is, how grandiose and how tragic that it's gone," he said. "We are losing losing a beautiful track." He said the demise of Garden State leaves a void in New Jersey's horse industry, industry, which dates back to colonial days. "There's a need for a small track in the southern part of the state where lower-caliber lower-caliber lower-caliber lower-caliber horses can run," DuArte said. He wonders what would have happened if Garden State had been rebuilt as an intimate, condensed track after it was destroyed by fire in 1977, instead of the $180 million, 25,000-seat 25,000-seat 25,000-seat white elephant elephant it became. DuArte points to the Fairgrounds in New Orleans, which also rose from the ashes. "But they made it smaller smaller and it's a great success," he said. "A normal crowd makes it look full." Attendance for the first 14 days of Garden State's farewell meet totaled 16,105, said spokesman Bill Fitadi. The handle the amount wagered topped $1 million, not counting simulcast simulcast betting. Mayor Susan Bass Levin Levin was among the locals to bid farewell to the track. "Today is the end of an era but the beginning of a new one," she said. CEO Richard Orbann, who toiled for years to keep the track afloat, said Garden Garden State's closure shouldn't be interpreted as the death of racing. But if the sport is to flourish, the industry needs to capture young people people who possess what Orbann Orbann calls the "G gene" a yen to gamble. "We need to target the market that is 18 or 19 years old and get them interested in the intellectual aspect of this game that makes it the sophisticated pastime it truly truly can be," he said. As a teen-ager, teen-ager, teen-ager, Orbann took a cab from his home in Northeast Philadelphia to Atlantic City Race Course because he was too young to drive. Jim Hoffman, 33, who drove from Staten Island, Island, N.Y., to say goodbye to Garden State, knows the feeling. He is one of the few of his generation to be bitten bitten by the bug. "I'm really into the handicapping and I do OK," he said. "But I had to teach myself and I'm afraid most of the new fans will have to, too." Tom Borreca of Haddon Township, who sells racing forms, had bitter words for former Gov. Christine . Todd Whitman, who vetoed a bill that would have permitted permitted off-track off-track off-track betting. "If the politicians in this state had allowed us to have other forms of gambling, gambling, the track would not be closing," he said. In the executive offices beneath the cavernous grandstand, Orbann's secretary, secretary, Jean Bates, took out a camera to take shots of the last race. She joked that working at a track is like being on one of the latest TV game shows in which contestants are kicked off the air. "You are the weakest link!" she trilled. "Goodbye!" "Goodbye!" Dennis Maloomian, president of Realen Properties Properties of Berwyn, Pa., and the track's new owner, was sympathetic to the fans but enthusiastic about the new Garden State Park. The first phase will be 442 active-adult active-adult active-adult active-adult townhouses. Demolition Demolition of the grandstand could occur within months. "It would be tragic if the track was closing and we weren't going on to something something else," he said. "But we have a viable, exciting use for the property." Maloomian and Orbann watched the final race together together in a gentlemanly changing of the guard. "That Matrix, it's mine, right?" Maloomian said, gesturing to the enormous tote board in the infield. "You don't want it," Orbann Orbann replied. "There's no parts. The only other one is at Yankee Stadium." "Then I'll sell my parts to the Yankees," Maloomian Maloomian said. The Matrix and other fittings fittings of the track will be auctioned auctioned off June 22-26. 22-26. 22-26. Thursday Thursday afternoon, fans walked away with losing tickets, souvenir programs and memories going back to 1942, when thoroughbreds first dashed out of the starting starting gate at Garden State. In its first incarnation, Bold Ruler won a celebrated celebrated match race in the 1950s. Secretariat thundered to a win in the Garden State Stakes as a 2-year-old 2-year-old 2-year-old 2-year-old 2-year-old in 1972. And the wooden grandstand burned to the ground five years later in an inferno that might be compared to Woodstock because because everyone insists he was there for the event The track was resurrected resurrected in 1985 by financier Robert Robert Brennan, w ho descended descended in a helicopter like an angel, only to tarnish the track by defrauding investors. investors. The new grandstand was packed that May as fans watched SpendaBuck speed to a $2.6 million purse in the Jersey Derby, still racing's richest prize. It was also Garden State's biggest losing day, the beginning of a long, painful decline. But even after fans started started zipping past the track on their way to casinos in Atlantic Atlantic City, Garden State remained a landmark, a big, green beacon in the middle of the suburbs. "It's part of our collective collective memory," Orbann said. "No matter where you go. anywhere in South Jer sey or Philadelphia, somebody somebody has a great story about Garden State Park."