The New Jersey horse racing community remains in shock, and prolonged mourning. Garden State fans and officials grapple with the sudden, Oct. 6 passing of popular Meadowlands Racetrack television host, morning-line oddsmaker and program analyst Dave Brower. He was 53.
One minute he was on assignment at the Red Mile in Lexington, Ky., set to chronicle the Kentucky Futurity, the third jewel of the trotting Triple Crown.
And in the next, he was gone too soon.
Brower was a Meadowlands Racing legend
The Passaic resident was a Meadowlands legend, reflecting the excellence of the nation’s premier harness-racing establishment. Brower thrived in his element, exuding joy, unparalleled knowledge and the thrill of plying his craft every day. He enjoyed the bonus of a national stage.
Besides handling several roles for the Meadowlands, he’d worked high-profile television gigs including the track’s $1 million Hambletonian in August on CBS Sports Network.
Brower did more than set the track’s morning lines, make handicapping comments on a couple hundred horses each week and host a nightly televised racing show. He lived long enough to embrace social media.
Brower played Twitter like a fiddle to a nightly audience enjoying a “concert” with him. He provided updated results and Meadowlands news items, chatting constantly with other media, bettors and fans. He’d strike up interest in the late double, a bettors’ nice hit, a trainers’ feel-good story.
Could anyone have been happier?
Dave Little: ‘I lost a great friend’
Brower chronicled the nation’s top venue to NJ horse bettors who relish its one-mile distance and the upsets that occur on a two-turn track. The big Meadowlands prices contrast the chalk-laden results of half-mile ovals with four turns that make winners of early inside speed.
At the Meadowlands, a horse can use the long backstretch to be positioned off the rail and then roar to victory in the homestretch. The track also sports large fields with multiple betting interests. That’s why New Jersey bettors support it with impressive handle.
These factors, and a commitment to bankroll big races, make the Meadowlands what it is. This East Rutherford racing cathedral is affectionately dubbed the Big M.
And Dave Brower was Big D at the Big M.
We are devastated by the passing of our coworker and dear friend Dave Brower. He will be greatly missed and forever in our thoughts. pic.twitter.com/BoZmJtqr6Z
— Meadowlands Racing (@TheMeadowlands) October 7, 2022
“I have lost a great friend and the New Jersey racing industry has lost someone who represented a level of experience and preparation that are unmatched in the sport,” Dave Little, Brower’s longtime analyst at Racing from the Meadowlands and other television programs told PlayNJ.
“Dave brought such a high level of professionalism to the television business as well,” Little added. “When that red light went on (signifying he was on the air), he not only communicated with the viewers, and with me, but he did it while a producer was talking in his ear.
“It was an honor to be next to him.
Brower and Little enjoyed each night of racing, with its analysis, best bets, value plays and Little’s Late Double, in which he’d predict winners of the last two races.
“He liked to ask me the last time I gave out a winner,” Little laughed.
Dave Brower ‘knew everybody in the game’
Visitors often greeted the two announcers on set and they had their favorite. In this context, Dave Little knew he was, well, little Dave
“When people said ‘Hey Dave, how you doin’?’ it was for Dave Brower, not me,” Little said. “He knew everybody in the game.
“I know trainers and drivers. Dave knew them too, but he also knew the caretakers, the owners and the track personnel. He always spoke to them in such a friendly manner,” Little added.
“He cared about their well-being and how they were doing. They loved him.”
Little and Brower were customarily close as announcers from their shared experience.
They planned to use a break in the harness schedule – set up by the Monmouth Park at the Meadowlands thoroughbred meet now running – to take a road trip to Freehold Raceway.
“We were going to go down there, make some bets, go for pizza and an ice-cream cone,” Little said. “We were going to set it up for when he got back from Kentucky.”
Brower never did. Little, a communications specialist for the Meadowlands, then had the excruciating task of writing the press release of his friend’s passing. He handled it professionally.
“The chemistry we had on the air was genuine,” Little remarked. “I sent out a picture of us smiling, which was appropriate for us. We were the same off camera together as we were on it. We genuinely cared about each other, we knew each other very well. I can’t imagine not sitting next to him when Nov. 4 (what was to be their next scheduled show) rolls around.”
There will be a Celebration of Life ceremony for Dave Brower at The Meadowlands on Saturday, Nov. 12, and anyone who appreciated his dedication to the sport of harness racing is welcome.
Brower will be honored before the race card, beginning at approximately 5:45 p.m.
There will be a Celebration of Life ceremony for Dave Brower at The Meadowlands on Saturday, Nov. 12, and anyone who appreciated his dedication to the sport of harness racing is welcome to be there.https://t.co/fVTTF8BcRa pic.twitter.com/cRzFT5jDTe
— Meadowlands Racing (@TheMeadowlands) October 12, 2022