Rob Hilliard

My education in thoroughbred racing started in the mid-’60s when, as a young teen growing up in Jersey City, a portion of weekends too numerous to count was spent accompanying my dad (George) to various OTB offices in midtown Manhattan.

My uncle (Leon) was one of many area teachers who supplemented their salaries by working the meets at Monmouth Park down the north Jersey shore. It was here that I had my first “live” exposure to the “Sport of Kings.” Leon was a “system” bettor, while George was into bloodlines.

Following high school graduation, the family (dad, mom, grandma and son) embarked upon a six-week tour of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. On June 27, 1970, I became forever hooked on the sport, bearing witness to the great Nijinsky’s victory in the Irish Derby at the Curragh. From trackside bookmakers to neighborhood betting parlors, I was fascinated by the extent to which the thoroughbred industry permeated Irish culture.

Thus began a lifetime love affair with thoroughbred racing, which saw me spend three summers working at Monmouth Park; visiting venues across the country; writing a master’s thesis on New York City’s Off-Track Betting Corporation, and developing a hypothetical plan to form R.A.C.E. (Racing Authority for Commonwealth Equines) for Massachusetts as part of a New School marketing course … well before the first teletrack theater opened in New Haven, Connecticut, on Oct. 25, 1979.

Now, some four decades later, the thoroughbred racing industry has experienced a series of unprecedented events, from the deaths of more than two dozen horses at Santa Anita and the first-ever disqualification of a Kentucky Derby winner … to the COVID-19 induced remix of the 2020 Triple Crown races and Mitch McConnell’s push to create a central horse racing authority.

Retired after a successful career in marketing communications, I’ve given my time over to the pen, authoring a memoir about my real “Field of Dreams” mid-life crisis regarding my role in bringing Minor League Baseball to the Garden State, and two works of fiction that have thoroughbred racing as their focal point.

It is my fervent hope that your thoughts and opinions offer fodder for future literary efforts.

%d bloggers like this: