by John Cirillo
photos by Tom Berg
There was a different kind of celebration in the Yonkers Raceway winner’s circle recently. Instead of a trophy presentation to the owners and driver of a victorious horse, a champagne toast marked the engagement of Alisha Christine Cleary and Jordan Michael Herbert in what is believed to be the first such proposal in the 116-year history of one of the country’s most iconic racetracks.
This “Call to the Post,” the ceremonious bugling that calls horses to the track, certainly had a different “ring” to it.
Yonkers Raceway is a special place for this Wisconsin couple, who traveled more than 800 miles for their recent visit. Alisha is the daughter of Mike Cleary, longtime director of operations at Yonkers Raceway, and it was the first place she brought her future groom when they visited New York as a courting couple.
“I chose Yonkers Raceway because I know it is a special place for Alisha and her family, and knew it would make for another great memory,” said Herbert. “I’ve been planning this for four months.”
After dinner, Jordan arranged for the couple to get up close and personal with the horses. The couple rode in the track starting car to kick off the eighth horse race, something they did on their very first visit to Yonkers Raceway. When they returned to the winner’s circle, Jordan dropped to one knee and made history with the first-ever winner’s circle proposal at the historic track.
Alisha and Jordan will always remember Yonkers Raceway, and New York, as the place they began a new chapter of their lives together.
There have been weddings at the Raceway, including the 777 and 888 affairs at the property’s casino, and many couples are known to have met there. But it seems there has never before been a marriage proposal in the winner’s circle.