Cancer Center Renamed to Thank Far Hills Steeplechase
by Joe Clancy, Jr.
Date Posted: 10/11/2005 12:11:53 PM

There are two winners of every race at the Far Hills Races steeplechase meet, a horse and a hospital.

The New Jersey meet, which hosts its 85th running Oct. 22, has contributed more than $16 million to Somerset Medical Center and received a gift of thanks with the recent announcement of the naming of the Steeplechase Cancer Center at the hospital in Somerville. The naming recognizes the steeplechase meet's long history of philanthropy and will expose hospital visitors to a racing-themed lobby at the 63,000 square-foot building when it opens next November.

"Far Hills is the social event of the season in Somerset County and one of the most prestigious steeplechase horse races in the country, but it is so much more than that for Somerset Medical Center," said Ken Bateman, the hospital's president and chief executive officer. "It is one of the most successful fundraisers in the country and it has benefited Somerset Medical
Center and the health care community in so many ways. It is our way of saying thanks."

Many National Steeplechase Association (NSA) meets benefit charities, but Far Hills takes fund-raising to a new level thanks to attendance that reaches 50,000 and has support from corporate sponsors. Far Hills' contributions have been spent on such projects as a mobile intensive care unit, a new maternity pavilion, and technology enhancements.

As the most lucrative of the NSA's 35 race meets, Far Hills also supports Thoroughbred racing. This year, $525,000 in purses will be distributed on a seven-race card that includes the $200,000 Breeders' Cup Steeplechase and five other stakes will be run worth at least $50,000 each.

"Far Hills means a lot to the steeplechase world, but it means just as much to the community," said Guy Torsilieri, the race meet's co-chairman and a Thoroughbred owner. "Now, all those people who go to the races get to say 'I helped with that cancer center.' It's very gratifying and really puts a great name to why we have the races."

A steeplechase bronze will grace the entrance area along with space to display race trophies and other exhibits.
In addition to Somerset, charities that benefit from steeplechase racing include Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Maryland, Vanderbilt Children's Hospital in Nashville, Atlanta Speech School in Georgia, Catawba Lands Conservancy in North Carolina, and Brandywine Conservancy in Pennsylvania.


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