Pace car spins out, rams into horses

The field scatters as horses hit the starting gate at Freehold.
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A slick track created a scary scene Friday at Freehold Raceway in New Jersey as the starting car skid into a turn and took out a field of trotters.

According to, the field of seven trotters were racing after the gate left the horses. The track was slippery and the car made a left turn in front of the horses as they entered the turn. It then lost its traction on the wet dirt and ended up spinning out of control right back into the path of the horses:

"We don't know what happened. It was definitely a freak mishap. Something I've never seen in 40 years in racing," Freehold Raceway director of racing and race secretary Karen Fagliarone said.

The horse on the lead, Civic Duty, was the only one able to avoid the car and the swinging gate, though two other horses also managed to continue running.

"The initial inspection was that the horses are all OK. Four of the drivers have been transported to Jersey Shore Medical Center" in Neptune, said Fagliarone, who the report says did not know the details of the status of the drivers.

Track superintendent Michael Fagliarone and Freehold general manager Howard Bruno both refused to comment to The driver of the starting gate car, Robert Blum, could not be reached, the newspaper reported.

The fifth race was declared a no-contest. Freehold canceled its final six races of the day following the accident.

Drivers Catello Manzi, Jim Pantaleano, Debra Rucker and Vince Ginsburg were taken to the hospital. Manzi suffered a punctured lung and cracked ribs, a track spokesperson said. All drivers are in stable condition.

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