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Karyn Malinowski, director of the Equine Science Center of Rutgers Agricultural Experiment Station, was recently awarded New Jersey's Horseperson of the Year and she reinforced the economic benefits harness racing brings to the state at a time when its future is in question.

Malinowski was presented with the 2009 Governor's Trophy at the 53rd Annual New Jersey Breeder's Luncheon in Eastampton, N.J., honoured for her "commitment to the well-being and quality of life for horses in the state and for helping to promote the state's equine industry."

"It's a great honour, a once-in-a-lifetime award," said Malinowski in an article on In July 2006,Malinowski's Equine Science Center conducted a comprehensive economic-impact assessment of the state's equine industry.

"Horse racing is the economic driving engine of the entire horse industry in the state — period," said Malinowski. "The industry is valued at $4 billion and generates $1 billion. It's also a quality-of-life issue because the equine industry represents more than that one-fifth of the total agricultural acres in the state of New Jersey. We're talking about 176,000 acres — 57,000 of which are related to racing.

"And this is not costing taxpayers a dime to keep this open space going — we are paying taxes on it because it is in the working agricultural landscape."