Freehold, NJ — The $12,000 Preferred Handicap at Freehold Raceway was a thrilling one Saturday afternoon (Feb. 10) as Mark Herschberger piloted 19-1 Big Stretch Mark to victory after a nail-biter of a stretch battle.
Herschberger and the Laurie Molnar trainee started from post three and settled in fourth on the rail after the wings folded. Just before the half, the pair of “Marks” took an opportunity to pull to the outside behind cover. They sat second-over for more than a quarter of the mile. Going into the final turn, Herschberger pulled the 11-year-old gelding three-wide to go head-to-head with the early leaders. He wasn’t the only one with a rally left in the tank, though. The field stretched six-wide across the track and they all were within reach of the lead as they paced for home. When they crossed the wire, Big Stretch Mark prevailed by a nose in 1:55.2. Six horses finished within half a length of the leader. Even the eighth-place finisher was only off by 2-1/4 lengths.
The winning owners are Donato Falcicchio and Paul Jessop. A win bet paid $41.60.
This was one of three wins on the 12-race card for Mark Herschberger. The rising star at Freehold has 13 wins in 60 starts so far in 2024.
Vinny Ginsburg has had hot hands lately and kept up the momentum this weekend. After scoring a grand slam last Saturday (Feb. 3), he scored a triple today.
Freehold Raceway also welcomed a Monmouth County (N.J.) 4-H group, the “Hearts and Horseshoes” club, to the track today. The group of over 20 kids and parents toured the backside and got to see the behind the scenes of harness racing in the paddock. They ate lunch in the paddock kitchen and then watched the rest of the races from the grandstand.
Freehold Raceway hosts live harness racing on Fridays and Saturdays with a post time of 12:30 p.m.