Friday, June 5, 2015

On Teaneck horse owner, editor is upstaged by ex-paper

Chubby's on Queen Anne Road in Teaneck, one of the oldest barbershops in Bergen County, is offering a free mane trim to any resident who owns a racehorse.


The front pages of The Record and The New York Times today report extensively on the Teaneck millionaire whose racehorse has a shot at the Triple Crown on Saturday.

But The Times does a far better job exploring the human-interest angle, especially how Ahmed Zayat has managed to remain an observant Jew during his rise to the top of the murky horse racing industry.

In doing so, the Manhattan-based national and international newspaper tells a story that Teaneck residents, especially the township's Muslims and Orthodox Jews, will find much more engaging than The Record's report (A-1).

Isn't it rich? 

Martin Gottlieb is upstaged and outflanked by the paper where he had a stellar career as a reporter and editor before he took over as editor of The Record, where he started his journalism career in the early 1970s.

Muslim or Jew?

One startling revelation in The Times story:

"Publicly, Mr. Zayat alternately identifies as Muslim and Jewish."

Before he moved to the U.S., Zayat privatized the former state-held beer company in his native Egypt, and "pioneered a line of nonalcoholic beers that appealed to the conservative Muslim country," The Times reports.

But in 2006, he bought a $4.6 million colt and named it Maimonides after one of the greatest Jewish philosophers.

"As a Muslim, he said at the time: 'I wanted to say something with a tool I had, which was a horse. I wanted to be pro-peace, and about loving your neighbor.'"

In Teaneck

"He lives with his wife and four children in a largely modern Orthodox neighborhood of Tudor and Victorian houses known as West Englewood in Teaneck ...," according to The Times.

"They keep kosher, arranging menus in advance at racetracks and, if they cannot locate a hotel close by, they stay in an R.V. and walk to the track, as they did at the Preakness Stakes, to avoid driving on the Sabbath."

The Times story continued:

"When asked for clarification about his religion, Mr. Zayat said, 'Why is it relevant, and why does it matter? It's personal.'"

The Times story was the talk of Teaneck's Orthodox Jewish community today.

Two men discussing Zayat and the race wondered how many synagogues will leave on a TV so that congregants can watch his stallion, American Pharoah (a misspelling of "pharaoh"), in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.

Also on Page 1

Don't miss the scintillating story on the rising number of bank branches in Bergen County (A-1).

Gottlieb leads the front page with a Washington Post story on Chinese hackers hitting the Office of Personnel Management as a warning to the four federal employees who call North Jersey home (A-1).

Another Page 1 story on "more than $1 billion in ... fees paid to Wall Street money managers in the last five years" doesn't tell readers whether Governor Christie has anything to do with the giveaway.

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