After an epic centennial celebration in 2021 that included a championship-deciding win by The Mean Queen in the Grand National Hurdle Stakes as one on several highlights, the Far Hills Race Meeting returns in 2022 for its 101st running as New Jersey’s premier social and sporting event.
What should I wear to the Far Hills Race Meeting? Can I bet? What do I need to know ahead of raceday? You have questions, we have answers! Here’s what you need to know before you go to the famed New Jersey jump races on Saturday, Oct. 15.
1. Know which races are being run.
The Far Hills Race Meeting is scheduled to have six races on the program worth $575,000 in purses, the most prestigious of which is the $250,000 Grand National. With the highest prize money of the afternoon, you’re sure to see some of the top jump horses in the nation for a race that is considered a Grade 1 by the National Steeplechase Association. The Grand National is slated to be the fifth of six races on the card and is a 2 5/8-mile race over national fences.
2. You can bet on Far Hills!
In 2018, Far Hills offered pari-mutuel wagering to patrons for the first time. New to betting or betting on steeplechase? The thing to remember if you are planning to attend the 2022 Far Hills Race Meeting is that the horse racing pari-mutuel betting system means you’re not playing against the house, you’re playing against your fellow bettors. So picking against the favorite can yield huge payouts! The favorites were formidible in 2021 but City Dreamer paid $15.60 to win and keyed a $61.80 exacta.
3. Know what you’re allowed to bring and what you should leave at home.
It’s important to bring the basics: sunscreen (yes, even in October!), a phone charger, and sunglasses are all a good call. But be sure to check out the FAQs so you don’t accidentally bring something that’s not allowed. For example, you can’t bring alcohol in through the pedestrian gate. Only reserved parking spot holders, corporate tent holders, and registered caterers are permitted to bring alcohol on the property for private parties. No pets (aside from service animals) are allowed and please leave your ice luges at home.
4. You don’t have to drive to Far Hills – there’s lots of public transportation.
The steeplechase action is going to be incredible on Oct. 16, and getting to Far Hills has never been easier: New Jersey Transit will offer trains trains from Hoboken, N.J., continuously on race day, and Far Hills also has an area for fans using rideshares to arrive and depart from the races. While general parking is available, remember that you should not drive if you’re planning to indulge in a few cocktails at Far Hills. Better safe than sorry!
5. But you can tailgate!
Far Hills is famous for its tailgating scene – putting on an elaborate spread with seasonal decoration is a point of pride for attendees, so make sure you stroll the area while you’re at the races. You never know – you could make some amazing new friends and be offered the chance to take part in a bite or a sip. The gates open for fans at 8 a.m. ET and the first post time is 1 p.m.
6. That Voice Sounds Familiar.
Veteran horseracing caller Larry Collmus is set to return to Far Hills for a second year. Best known as the voice of the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup, Collmus is widely considered one of professional racing’s most acclaimed race caller. Throughout his nearly 40-year career, Collmus has amassed a long list of accomplishments, including calling Triple Crown-winning victories for American Pharoah and Justify. Collmus says he’s a big fan of steeplechase racing, which he views as “more about sport than money” and looks forward to returning this fall to Far Hills to soak up its unique celebratory atmosphere.
7. Speaking of atmosphere ...
In Collmus own words: “Far Hills is more of a party. One thing I noticed was the age of the crowd. People are always asking ‘how can we make horseracing more appealing to a younger crowd?’—and this was full of college kids having a great time. It was a real ‘people experience,’ with whole generations of families behind the track and people dressed in fancy hats like at the Kentucky Derby.”
8. Tickets are still available, and buying online will save you some cash.
If you don’t have your tickets yet, don’t panic! You can still buy them online, and you’ll save some money if you do because general admission tickets are half-price in advance. Whether you want to be in the Centennial Tent or experience the fun of general admission, be sure to get your tickets ahead of time to avoid the line and increased expense of waiting.
9. Dress to impress, but also for comfort.
If you’re a fall fashion fan, you’re going to love Far Hills. Dress to impress, but remember to also be comfortable. That means forsaking your favorite stiletto boots or the monk straps that pinch your toes – Far Hills is not the place to plan on sitting around. That’s because …
10. The grounds are huge, and there’s a lot to see.
The Far Hills Race Meet is one of the most beautiful venues around, and it’s massive. The racetrack itself is only a fraction of the grounds, and there is so much to explore while you’re there. From the vendor village to tailgating, the finish line to the infield, you’re going to want the chance to wander and see all the excitement of an afternoon of steeplechasing.
11. You never know what you might witness.
You could say James Damiano was the biggest winner at last year’s Far Hills Race Meeting. Better than cashing in big on a bet, James got a “yes” when he popped the question to his girlfriend Bryn Dragalin in front of their friends and family … and 30,000 racegoers who watched from the jumbotron.
12. The race meeting is a huge fundraiser for charities.
Far Hills Race Meeting has donated more than $18 million to charity over its history, and this year’s beneficiaries include RWJ Barnabas Health, Crossroads4Hope, Bonnie Brae, The Arc of Somerset County, LifeCamp, and Community in Crisis. By attending the races, you’ll be helping some very worthy charities. Everyone wins!