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Unlimited Booze Needs to End at Races, Far Hills Mayor Says

Better crowd control and ban of outside alcohol needed for longtime event to continue, Vallone says.

The Borough of Far Hills, the Somerset Medical Center and the Far Hills Race Meeting have had a decades-long relationship including the facility's Steepchase Cancer Center.

But even so, in order for the races to continue into the future, changes must be made to halt the many cases of drunkenness, public urination, drug use and sales and other Far Hills Mayor Paul Vallone insists.

The Borough Council already had a discussion on the matter at Monday's meeting, which he said was attended by the race meeting's president, Guy Torsilieri, at which Vallone said that an end to excessive alcohol consumption and underage drinking is an issue on which there will be "no negotiation."

Vallone, and also Far Hills Police Chief Ken Hartman, said that three juveniles in an extreme state of intoxication had to be transported from the race site to Somerset Medical Center, the very institution the event has long supported.

"We appreciate that this event raises money for a very good cause," Vallone said on Wednesday afternoon. "But the event has become almost uncontrollable."

At future meetings, the Borough Council — which is responsible for each year granting a permit for the race to take place — will refine ideas already discussed about only allowing alcohol to be sold on the premises, rather than allowing unlimited and unregulated food and drink to be brought in — and perhaps capping the number of attendees, Vallone said.

The Far Hills mayor said that allowing vendors to sell alcohol would allow more control over who is permitted to purchase drinks. As at professional baseball or football games, alcohol sales could be halted before the the sporting events end to allow people time to "sober up."

Vallone said that problems are more common in the lower area of the field, but there have even been some problems in previous years at the larger tailgating sites and corporate tents further up the hill.

In recent years, he said, cars and busloads bearing already intoxicated racegoers from other states and throughout New Jersey have been arriving even before the event actually begins.

Some of those leave later and attempt to drive home while intoxicated — a concern that Although Far Hills receives reimbursement from the race meeting association for hiring extra police, those surrounding communities do not.

Although police and the mayor said that there are 20 officers posted in Far Hills outside the event, and almost another 200 assigned within Moorland Farms, located off Route 202 in compact Far Hills.

But even those inside the race were confronted with an overwhelming number of incidents, Vallone said.

During the afternoon event, for which the gates at Moorland Farms opened on Saturday mornings, there were 25 arrests for violations that ranged from theft and trespassing, to assault, disorderly conduct, public urination and more, Hartman reported on Tuesday. Most were males in their early to mid-20s, and several were from other states, including California and Maryland, according to his information.

In the past, Vallone said that much of the discussion after each race centered on how the race association would improve security in the future. But now he said borough officials want a more pro-active approach.

Vallone said borough officials expect to have some discussions with the race association and the medical center in the next few weeks, and to refine plans for changes at future races at public Borough Council meetings, likely in December or January.

Dr. Joseph J. Murphy October 25, 2012 at 04:15 PM
I hate to say this, but if they ban alcohol almost no one will go! One of the reasons we STOPPED going was because I do not want my children esposed to the slovenly behavior of many of the badly behaved attendees. It's supposed to be a high class equestrian event, not a heavy metal concert. The entire thing has denegrated in my opinion. I am sure the people with classs that do attend would agree that it is not like it used to be.
Dr. Joseph J. Murphy October 25, 2012 at 04:17 PM
"exposed" was a typo
What horse race? October 25, 2012 at 05:32 PM
If they ban alcohol, what will they do when only 5 people show up? The booze IS the event. So quit whining, pay the cops to keep a lid on things and rent more port o johns for next year.
Tom Schultz October 27, 2012 at 12:08 PM
The event is great. The problem is the booze some know how to enjoy and others one is too many and a case is not enough. You have three classes of people theGood,.Bad,Ulgy put the last two groups at any event and you have trouble. They just do not know how to act in social events. The animals come out and that is the end of a great event. Limit the liquor don't ruin the event for because of some low lifes.
Karen Shepherd October 27, 2012 at 12:56 PM
CONSEQUENCES: Impose draconian fines for all alcohol-related arrests at the races. I'm suggesting fines in the range of $2,500 and up. At the time of arrest, abusers need to be taken to a holding area (Somerset Co., jail?) to post bail before being allowed to leave. I can't think of too many people who'd be happy about paying $2,500 for a drink. Also, post names of arrestees on the Steeplechase's Facebook page.
Jvc October 29, 2012 at 01:05 AM
I thought a couple of years ago they were carding everyone. I know it might make it virtually impossible to keep the line going at the entrance, but it is the young, under age kids ruining it for the majority. Also, half the porta jons this year!? And there definitely needs to be a larger police presence! In uniform!!
Enthusiast October 30, 2012 at 04:53 PM
This is a good event for a very worthwhile cause. But, over the years, it has steadily degenerated. Prohibiting alcohol is not a good solution -- punishing many for the misdeeds of a few -- who may sneak in alcohol anyway. I would recommend controlling admission more carefully. Advance ticket purchase only, higher prices and discounted deals for recognized groups.
LCB@home February 28, 2013 at 04:33 PM
I have lived in BR for 10 years and NEVER would take my family to that event. While banning alcohol might limit the number of people who go to party like there's no tomorrow, it just might bring some civility to the event and bring in those of us who currently stay far away!
c March 02, 2013 at 12:25 AM
It is just another example of how the social graces are no longer taught or explained to children. Everything everywhere is the same for them , one big party to show off and see who can get the most drunk and behave so horrible, and then put it out in pictures for the world to see with no sense of remourse It is such a marvelous cause and it must have been so beautiful years and years ago. I would never go and have to be around such ill mannered people. So much for living in this wealthy community. You can't buy class. These kids have no consequence,as they are forever rescued by mom and dad. I agree let them sit in a jail cell with large fines. Why is this allowed because anywhere else it would never stand. Over indulging children with no manners or social skills so sad. First thing I taught my son manners, and what and what not was accepted appropriate behavior wherever we were. I am happy to hear people have spoken and children are not running the adults as they do in their own homes. Bring back the day when children were seen not the center of their parents world. When will the pendulum ever swing back just a little? When will people be responsible and have consequences for their behavior? Believe me we were all that age but we just new right from wrong........

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