Far Hills race meeting, set to be held at New Jersey’s Moorland Farm on October 20, is to feature pari-mutuel betting this year, for the first time in its almost century-long history.

The 98th edition of the meet is to include the $450,000 Grand National which adds to overall purses of $850,000, a North American steeplechase record.

Under NJ law, Far Hills is to conduct its one-day wagering under the Monmouth Park pari-mutuel licence, with races to fall under the supervision of the New Jersey Racing Commission.

Dennis Drazin, president and CEO of Darby Development LLC, which operates Monmouth Park, commented: “After years of working closely with the Far Hills Race Meeting team, we’re so pleased the partnership is finally official.

“We are grateful to have an opportunity to support this beloved 98-year tradition while also raising greater awareness for steeplechase racing and all equine sports throughout the region and beyond.”

“Far Hills is pleased to offer our loyal patrons this prized amenity: A chance to bet on our races. The wagering experience is yet another way for our fans to enjoy and be intimately involved in our races, which, every year, draw top horses from the United States and overseas,” said Guy J. Torsilieri, Far Hills’ chairman.

Following strong legislative support, and near-unanimous votes in the New Jersey Assembly and Senate, Far Hills was passed for pari-mutuel betting in August 2016.

Initial plans to see its introduction last year were put back due to logistical issues, and local officials, including Borough of Far Hills Mayor Paul J. Vallone, are firmly behind the launch: “As mayor, I and the borough council support the introduction of pari-mutuel wagering at the Far Hills Race Meeting, not only to enhance the event’s experience, but also to continue to provide funding for local charities, medical facilities and borough programs, both present and future, providing an important benefit to our residents..

“Wagering will help to invigorate the equestrian tradition, which is part of the fabric of our region, and enhance growth within the Far Hills Race Meeting and throughout the entire borough as we both near our centennial anniversary.”

It is also hoped that through this introduction and the continuation of its high-definition video streaming of its races, Far Hills can not only grow on a national but also an international basis.

“We feel that Far Hills offers a premier steeplechase experience, and we welcome the opportunity to share our races with all of America and jump-racing fans around the world,” concluded Torsilieri. “We hope that this combination of top-level competition, a superior video experience, and a wagering opportunity will attract new fans to steeplechase racing.”

Over the years, Far Hills Race Meeting has provided more than $18 million to fund local health-care initiatives.