CONTACT: Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137

Hal Handel, COO of New York Racing Association, special guest


(West Windsor, NJ) -- And they’re off! Momentum is growing for Mercer County Sports and Entertainment Commission’s annual luncheon fundraiser, and this year’s event, the Holiday Derby, promises a great time from start to finish line.

Hal Handel, Executive Vice President and COO of the New York Racing Association, will be the featured speaker speak at the Holiday Derby, set for Tuesday, December 8, 2009 at the Mercer Oaks Clubhouse in West Windsor, NJ.

Mr. Handel’s experience with thoroughbred racing spans over 23 years operating racetracks in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York including Monmouth Park, the Meadowlands, Philadelphia Park, Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga. A lifelong New Jersey resident, Mr. Handel is the past president of Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America and the former executive director of the New Jersey Racing Commission.

The festivities begin with holiday shopping at 11 a.m. and will feature a number of local vendors including Heigh Ho Silver, Carella’s Chocolates, Spangles, Amber Spa, DiFranco Pipe and Tobacco, Mia Bella Candles and many more.

In addition to a field of fantastic vendors, the day’s meal will be a standout, too.

Taken straight from an original Kentucky Derby cookbook, Jim Hines of Mercer Oaks Catering will recreate some of the traditional Race Day fare. Featured will be mint juleps, Kentucky “field greens” salad, pulled pork, pimiento cheese, baked raspberry brie, meatballs and mushrooms, tenderloin with Henry Bain sauce, wild rice and biscuits. The “Finish Line” features a Kentucky favorite, Derby pie, served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream.

Continuing with the Derby theme, ladies are encouraged to wear hats in the Derby tradition. Hats can be glam, tacky or wacky, but the more extravagant the better. Gentlemen are encouraged to wear seersucker. Special prizes will be presented to attendees who participate in our Derby "dress code."

Cost to attend the luncheon is $40 and reservations are required. Proceeds benefit the Mercer County Sports and Entertainment Commission a 501(c)(3). For more information please visit www.mcsec.net or call 609-737-0927.