He was one of the most influential figures in the storied history of Monmouth Park, and on Saturday the track will present the 77th running of the stakes race named in honor of Philip Iselin.
The Grade 3 $150,000 Philip Iselin Stakes has attracted 16 nominations and a field of talented runners will line up in the starting gate on Saturday, August 18 to contest the 1 1/8 mile test on the main track. The victor will join a prestigious list of past winners who include Skip Away, one of Monmouth Park's most popular and accomplished horses, and Ghostzapper, who just this past Friday was enshrined in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York. Since 1946, 15 horses who are members of the Hall of Fame have competed in the Iselin.
Iselin was a key player in the launching of the modern day Monmouth Park in 1946. He was the chairman of the construction committee and became the treasurer of the newly-formed Monmouth Park Jockey Club. In 1961, he assumed the position of vice-president, and following the death of Amory Haskell in 1966, took over the reigns as president and board chairman. He held these positions at the racetrack until his death in 1961.
Under Iselin, Monmouth Park established many firsts: the videotape patrol, a nationally televised race, an Olympic-sized swimming pool for the jockeys, an interior chute for the grass course, a turf club in the grandstand, a recreation hall in the stable area, and a modern, air-conditioned press box.
Iselin's influence on the area sports scene extended far beyond the racetrack. In 1968, he became the president of the New York Jets after he and a group of investors had purchased the team in 1964 under the name of the New York Titans. Renamed the Jets, the team won the Super Bowl with "Broadway" Joe Namath as the quarterback.
With his wife, Betty, Iselin formed the Monmouth Park Charity Fund in 1947 and to date close to $10 million has been raised and distributed to worthwhile charities throughout Monmouth County.
In 1986, track officials paid homage to Iselin by renaming the race known as the Monmouth Handicap to the Philip H. Iselin Handicap. In recent years, the conditions of the race were changed from a handicap to a stakes.
When the Iselin Stakes is renewed on Saturday as the featured event on the program, Philip Iselin will be remembered for his greatness and his many contributions.