The fourteenth annual Kentucky Derby Day celebration sponsored by Monmouth Park Charity Fund was held on May 6, 2017 in the outdoor garden of the Blu Grotto Ristorante located at Monmouth Park Racetrack. Tickets to this highly-anticipated event sold out two weeks prior to the actual event. In attendance were 370 guests, which included members of the military.
Longtime supporter of the Monmouth Park Charity Fund Ray Catena was the Event Sponsor. Event Chair Marilyn Lloyd, Co-Chair Maria Tanzola, and an amazing committee of 25 people presented a special evening that included simulcasting of the Kentucky Derby with betting available; an open bar; and food specialties made by Blu Grotto’s Chef John Corona. A hat parade and contest was also held, as well as live, silent and chance auctions. Honorary Co-Chairs were Tom Donovan, president and publisher of the Asbury Park Press and Phil Villapiano, former linebacker for the Oakland Raiders. Donovan was MC for the live auction and helped to raise more than $27,000.
This year’s honorees were OceanFirst Bank (accepted by Christopher Mayer); Valerie Montecalvo, owner and CEO of Bayshore Recycling Corporation; Anthony Abbatiello, a decorated war veteran of the Korean War and Harness Racing Hall of Famer; and The Tigger House Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to achieving a positive impact by reducing the death rate of heroin and opiate addiction, started by Rick and Lisa Stavola.
Monmouth Park Charity Fund Director of Operations Debi Heptig noted that the organization is 71 years old and since its inception over 9.3 million dollars has been given to local non-profits. “Success of this event, while incredibly fun and one of the most revered parties of the year, ultimately will define how many grants we can give out to our non-profit organizations. It’s an exciting and important event.”
*Photo Credit: Tom Zapcic Photography