The Mean Queen Takes Grand National as Far Hills Celebrates Centennial

After a cancellation in 2020 due to the pandemic, Far Hills held its centennial celebration Oct. 16 and The Mean Queen won the featured American Grand National in front of a crowd estimated to be more than 28,000. (J Connelly Photo)

The Far Hills Race Meeting returned after a one-year hiatus and celebrated its 100th running Oct. 16 in New Jersey with an action-packed, six race card highlighted by The Mean Queen’s half-length victory over Snap Decision in the $150,000 Grand National.

The 5-year-old Doyen mare improved to six wins and one second in eight races this year, including five wins in six U.S. starts. She earned her third straight victory in a National Steeplechase Association Grade 1 race, having won the Jonathon Sheppard Handicap by 4 ¾ lengths in August at Saratoga and the Lonesome Glory Stakes by two lengths in September at Belmont Park prior to her hard-fought Grand National victory.

Ridden by Richard Condon in the 2 5/8-mile race, The Mean Queen became the first female winner of the Grand National since Sea Tale in 1923. She figures to be a runaway winner of the Eclipse Award as 2021 champion steeplechaser for trainer Keri Brion, a former assistant to Hall of Famer Jonathon Sheppard, and owner Buttonwood Farm.

J Connelly Photo

The Far Hills Race Meeting was postponed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the festive event enjoyed a successful return with an estimated crowd of more than 28,000 on hand for New Jersey’s renowned steeplechase event.

The centennial celebration featured $400,000 in purses, the highest of the year for a steeplechase event, for the six races with Triple Crown race caller Larry Collmus calling the action.

The event, which had raised more $18 million for local healthcare charities entering the 2021 meeting, supported six beneficiaries: Robert Wood Johnson (RWJ) Barnabas Health SomersetCrossroads4HopeThe Arc of Somerset CountyCommunity in CrisisLifeCamp, and Bonnie Brae.

Enjoy this slideshow from photographer J Connelly that perfectly captures the magic of a centennial celebration that even included an engagement.

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