Minnie Horowitz is celebrating her birthday at the Meadowlands racetrack in New Jersey Friday night.
This may at first glance appear to be less than startling news. Racetrack birthday parties are not unusual, often accompanied by a congratulatory message on the tote board if the celebrant is known to the track, or makes a special request, and if it’s a quiet afternoon or night, which it is frequently at tracks these days.
Minnie Horowitz is something of an exception.
The Meadowlands is rolling out the red carpet, as it does annually for Minnie, since she and her family and friends have made it a custom to celebrate there. The track thinks enough of her birthday party that she will be making a trophy presentation in the winner’s circle, a nice finishing touch for the celebration.
Mrs. Horowitz once lived in New York City with her husband, but he died at 56, and Minnie now lives in Fair Lawn, NJ, not far from East Rutherford and the Meadowlands’ beautiful big mile track, with her daughter, Elinor Schocket.
Mrs. Schocket has been taking her mother to the Meadowlands for her birthday for 25 years now, considering it, somewhat superstitiously, as bringing good luck, win or lose a buck.
Minnie bets, but not big time. She is conservative with her nickels and dimes, as befits someone her age.
On her birthday Friday night, Minnie will be 103.
She is America’s oldest regular racing fan, it says here, and she says it keeps her young.
She had been married 27 years when her husband died, and she never remarried. She did not sit around and pine, however.
She did television commercials when she was 95 years old. It was as a member of Variety, the theatrical club that helps children as one of its projects, that she met agents who suggested she get into television, and she did and was good at it.
She was asked to do a commercial for false teeth at 95, but had to turn down that assignment because she doesn’t use them, having all her own.
Kidding with the agents, she said, "If you ever have anything else, give me a call." So they did, and she began doing commercials for Con Ed, the utility company in New Jersey.
With fans like Minnie Horowitz, things can’t be too bad for racing.
On another beat, Shawn Scott is in the news again. Or should that read "still." He’s gone from Maine, having sold Bangor Historic Track to Penn National Gaming for a reported $30 million without ever holding a race or operating a slot there, but he has resurfaced in New Mexico, where both he and the racing commission are unhappy.
A candidate for Most Litigious Promoter of the Year, he now is suing the New Mexico Racing Commission, saying it violated state law when it bypassed him for the coveted racino license at Hobbs, on the Texas border within easy reach of the oil rich towns of Lubbock, Midland and Odessa. That license was awarded to R. D. Hubbard’s Zia Partners, and Scott says it was awarded illegally because of multiple track holdings by members of the group, contrary to New Mexico law.
The commission, for its part, is reopening its files to see if Scott provided false information when he answered "No" to an application question as to whether he had ever had any of his licenses revoked or suspended. Lawyers for the Zia Partners think Scott had applications for video poker licenses denied in South Carolina in 1997 because of delinquent property taxes in that state. He did lose his license in New York this year, but that came after the New Mexico applications were filed.
As long as Shawn is around, things will not grow dull.