Ronald Dancer Dies After Long Service To Legislature, Racing

ronald dancer

Ronald Dancer, who served in the New Jersey General Assembly for the past two decades and led efforts to preserve and strengthen the state’s horse racing industry, died on Saturday at age 73 after a long illness.

The news is a blow to the racing industry, which has been assisted by numerous measures passed by the legislature with Dancer’s backing and then signed into law by the state’s governors. Top officials from the state and racing interests issued statements mourning his loss.

Gov. Phil Murphy said: “Tammy and I are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Assemblyman Ron Dancer. True to his roots in one of New Jersey’s storied equestrian racing families, in public service he was a work horse, not a show horse.

“A proud veteran with a quiet demeanor and humble nature, Ron built friendships across the aisle.”

More tributes to Dancer offered

Dennis Drazin, whose Darby Development firm runs Monmouth Park for the state’s thoroughbred horsemen, told NJ Online Gambling Tuesday, “Ron was one of the most supportive Assemblyman for the whole industry, not just the standardbred side. I can’t think of another person in the legislature who was as knowledgeable on our issues as he was. He certainly will be missed.

“There was no Democratic/Republican split when it came to support for horsemen, because lawmakers have understood that preserving the tracks also comes down to preserving open space in our state. And Ron was the backbone of a lot of those initiatives.”

Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, the Democratic chairman of the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee, told NJ Online Gambling that he served on that committee with Dancer, a Republican, for almost 15 years.

“He was an elegant, great man and a gentle person,” said Caputo, a former Atlantic City casino executive who is the point person for many gambling issues outside of horse racing. “I felt like we had a perfect marriage. He didn’t regard us like a member of an opposition party, and we felt the same way. He was soft spoken, and a really good listener.”

Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio said in his statement: “Ron’s 20 years in the Assembly are marked not only by his tireless efforts to serve his constituents, even during his illness, but his willingness to work across party lines to accomplish what he believed was best for all New Jerseyans.”

Horse racing part of his bloodline

Dancer, who served in the U.S. Army from 1969-71, spent 30 years racing and training standardbred horses as part of a legendary horse racing family.

His father, Stanley Dancer, was a 1970 inductee into the Harness Racing Museum Hall of Fame. Stanley Dancer remains the only person to have driven and trained three harness racing Triple Crown winners — trotters Nevele Pride in 1968 and Super Bowl in 1972, and with pacer Most Happy Fella in between in 1970.

Stanley Dancer also was the first to train a horse that achieved $1 million in career earnings, Cardigan Bay in 1968, with the two of them appearing together on The Ed Sullivan Show as a reward. Stanley Dancer won more than $28 million and 3,781 races.

Last November, Ronald Dancer was honored with the Rutgers Equine Science Center’s Spirit of the Horse Award in recognition of his contributions to New Jersey’s horse industry. That included his role more than a decade ago in authorizing the turnover of the Meadowlands Racetrack and Monmouth Park from state ownership to private interests — keeping the tracks afloat in a time of peril.

Photo: Mike Davis/Asbury Park Press

Author: administrator

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.