The End of An Era

On Sunday, December 18, 2022 at 4:17 p.m. EST, Raymond William Kerrison, 92, died after a brief illness, surrounded by family.

Born March 2, 1930 to Percy James Kerrison and Mary Ann McBride in Adelaide, Australia, Kerrison was the youngest of six children behind Fred, Loretta, Carmel, Mary, and John.

He was preceded in death by his wife of nearly 60 years, Monica (nee Kirby) in 2012, his daughter Maria Terese in 1963, and a son, John Gerard in 1964.

He is survived by his daughters, Catherine, Loretta, Louise and Francesca and sons, Damien, Gregory and Patrick, in addition to 18 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Kerrison lived his life with an unassuming nature, an unwavering faith in God and a staunch immovable approach to journalism where facts eclipsed opinion with every word he wrote.

Whether politics or the ponies, he made his mark and was the quintessential New York columnist.

His first role as a journalist came at The Murray Pioneer when their editor Arch Grosvenor asked if he would ever be interested in becoming a reporter. He replied, “I tried everything else there is, why not give this a go.” At that moment, a writing legend took his first steps.

From there Kerrison moved to the Adelaide News in October 1952. Fifteen months later he applied for, and got, a role with the Australian Associated Press. Working for a man he referred to as a tyrant, he gave notice after six months and moved to London to get a job on a Fleet Street paper to better learn the business.

After a time in London, he lost that job and referred to it as one of the absolute worst times of his life. He, his wife and two small children then made their way to America in 1956. Many years later he said that very firing was the turning point of his life. He met with an old friend of his who later introduced him to Rupert Murdoch. The rest, as they say, is history.

Fast forward to the mid-1970’s when he worked as the editor for The National Star. After serving in that role for a while, he tendered his resignation to Murdoch telling him, in essence, “If I wanted to edit a woman’s magazine, I’d go to the Ladies Home Journal, not this …. ‘paper.’  “

Murdoch told him to sit tight. He had something in the works.

At the end of 1976, Murdoch took possession of the New York Post. On January 1, 1977, Kerrison started his career as a turf writer which garnered immediate attention.

Time magazine reported that Murdoch planned on “upping the racing presence in New York,” and it began with Kerrison’s appointment.

Two local competing papers – the Daily News and Newsday – made a mad dash to find and hire the best turf writers they could, to keep pace. They hired terrific racing columnists, both indeed, but neither were the investigative journalist Kerrison was.

His approach was simple.  Simple and aggressive.  Kerrison vowed to protect the $2 bettor. American racing writers were mere publicity agents at that time. No one caused a stir and the pot laid dormant. Everything in the racing world was going to change, and it did. It changed at Kerrison’s doing.

Turf writers made their animosity known. Racing officials became guarded and, for the most part, trainers and jockeys wanted no part of this Kerrison. He created a demand for accountability from racing officials and racing personnel. Turf writers were pressed to work for a living. Those on the inside, who were well protected, were now vulnerable. Not everyone embraced this change and Kerrison’s daily life at the racetrack was made to be a rather trying one.

However, he was not one to yield in order to satiate the needs of the lazy or the less than respectable.

Quite simply, Kerrison never cared for their opinions. Facts were crucial. Facts were his professional love language. The punters adored him because he had their backs and never quit on them.

Case in point:

It was not long into his tenure at the New York Post that he got the story of the decade. He heard rumblings of a vet who was bringing two horses into the States from Uruguay that looked a lot alike. One of them, however, was considerably better than the other. The plan was simple.  Let the slow one run a few races and make the bettors think he couldn’t beat an ailing three-legged donkey. This way, the next time he runs the bettors have such little confidence of that horse his odds become so ridiculously high.

Once the vet felt convinced that was the case, he switched them. He ran the good horse who looked just like the not so good horse. The good one would circle the field and win easily. Meanwhile, as a result, the veterinarian and his crooked cronies are walking to the windows to collect a bucket load of money.

But not for long.

Kerrison told his bosses and they sent him to Uruguay to look deeper. They even had three NYPD Detectives tag-along. They learned the vet’s wife was a major player in this scam, too. When all was said and done and the bad guys caught, they were prosecuted, jailed and barred from racing for life.

This expose put Kerrison on the map. He won The Page One Award for Excellence in Journalism and the Silurian Award, bestowed by veteran journalists to outstanding journalist of the year. The two biggest awards the biggest city in the world offered. He was pleased to have earned both, but neither defined him. Those stories were written. There was more work to do.

He was told that he won a Pulitzer for the story, but the committee overturned it and gave it to some fella in Connecticut. The rumor was it was overturned because they’d never give it to someone who wrote for the Post. Truth be told Kerrison never totally bought into those rumors and made zero efforts to follow-up and see if that was truth. It was not his way. His humility and quiet confidence didn’t lend itself to accolades. A nomination for a Pulitzer was just as good to him. His interest was in facts, great investigative journalism and protecting the horseplayer.

That is who he was working for – the horseplayer. 

For those who were interested however, over the next 30 years every major newspaper in New York had won a Pulitzer Prize. All but one. The New York Post.

In later years he, along with fellow racing columnist John Piesen, also helped to uncover the single biggest horserace fixing scam in New York’s racing history. At its end, some went to jail and died there; some lost their riding license and received lifetime bans and some were suspended for a period.

It rattled the racing community and turned it on its ear. Front page news again and again. The best of the best was implicated yet Kerrison focused only on the truth, regardless of consequences and the thugs in the background orchestrating things.

This was Kerrison’s modus operandi. Understated, unassuming, quiet confidence and relentless drive to find the truth, uncover it, and make sure the horseplayer gets a fair shake.

Prior to getting his dream job of being paid to go to the horse track, he also covered some stories of a lifetime.

Arthur Miller, his parents, and Marilyn Monroe

• Three months after landing in America, he had gotten an assignment to go to Waterbury, CT to the residence of author Arthur Miller. He brought his wife along and took home movies of their visit. Because when Marilyn Monroe is five feet away from you, you make it a point to document it with film. Miller and Monroe married that same day at the residence.

• Shortly after that, Kerrison was on a boat tour around Manhattan with Elizabeth Taylor and her husband at the time, Mike Todd.

• He interviewed a parade of entertainers – Audrey Hepburn, Sammy Davis, Jr., Judy Garland, and Liberace to name a small handful.

Having a cigarette with Audrey Hepburn

• He met, was invited to sit with, and spent 30 minutes talking to Dr. Martin Luther King on a 1963 flight to Birmingham.

• He covered Elvis Presley’s debut on the Ed Sullivan Show.

• He took a train ride from Denver, CO to Salt Lake City, UT sitting beside John Wayne for every mile, as the Duke was drinking scotch, smoking cigars and carrying on about the movie biz.

• He covered America’s first flight into space at Cape Canaveral.

• He spent three days in the Utah desert with actor Gregory Peck.

Gregory Peck and Dad

• He spent seven days in New Orleans covering Roger Moore in his first Bond film – Live and Let Die.

• He has lunched with Charlton Heston, Anthony Quinn, Ernest Borgnine, Phil Silvers, and Ricardo Montalban.

• He was blind-folded and taken to a secret location on Long Island to interview Svetlanov Stalin – daughter of Premiere Russian Leader, Josef Stalin.

With Svetlana Stalin

Throughout his entire journalism career, which spanned better than 50 years, every agreement he had with Murdoch was done with no more than a handshake.

All of that, and so much more, were testaments to his exceptional work ethic and character.

He lived his life as a devout Catholic. A devotion he shared with his beautiful and loving wife Monica for the 59 years and 11 months they were married, until her death in 2012.

Together they had nine children and they lost two very young. Neither ever totally recovered completely from their losses. Their beautiful hearts would never allow it.

They both gave everything they had for all the days they had on this earth. Some harder than others. Some exhausting, some filled with an inestimable amount of joy.

They were tested. Often. Their faith was tested. Their relationship was tested. Their belief in themselves was tested.  Their devotion to family was tested. They were tested by their children, seven times over.

Their life together was one test after another. It was their faith in God and each other that led them to the beautiful life they lived together. They made it through every adversity because they had God and each other in their lives.

They were an unimaginable team of role models. Both revered, loved and adored by their children and their grandchildren, as they so deserved.

Then the time came for this story, this life, this magnificent presence on earth, to come to its conclusion. For him to find a peace deserving of such an extraordinary life. To now stand in front of his darling Monica once again and lose himself in those gorgeous blue eyes of hers.

… and to hear her say “Lovey, welcome home.”


Viewing is Tuesday December 20, 2022 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. located at Blackley Funeral Home 809 Broad Ave, Ridgefield, NJ 07657 (201) 945-5032

Funeral Mass is Wednesday December 21, 2022 at 9:30 a.m. located at St. Matthews R.C. Church 55 Prospect Avenue, Ridgefield, NJ 07657

One Italian Summer

OK. So here’s the story on this from my perspective. 

I finished it this morning and hours after completing it I chose to give it 4 out of 5. it’s kind of like 3.8 however the descriptions of Positano, Naples, Capri, climbing the Path of the Gods and more were simply lovely. 

Truth is it was these descriptions that earned the rating it did. Serle’s depictions had me. I can smell the ocean. I can see skies a shade of piercing blue you think is only described in books or created with graphics on the screen, but I believed it to be in front of me. I could taste the wine in every town )although that may have been the wine in my hand. Could go either way on that).

I climbed The path of the Gods and my thighs burned.  I sampled pizza at different restaurants in Naples, the city it was created, and I felt the anxiety, uneasiness and excitement all at once while taking a boat ride under the arch of the Faraglioni rocks, where if you kiss, your love will be sealed forever!

It was everything in Italy I have never seen, but dreamed of and was given to me in such a way I can see it again and again. This by virtue of opening a book and turning a page. 

Man I love books. 

Serle took me on vacation and I love her for it. 

Regarding the story itself, the concept was terrific. I was, for a while in fact, irritated with Katy for not being her own woman and so dependent on her mother Carol. I would be audibly frustrated while reading. Lines like “Oh my God just grow a second skin, make a decision and live with it!!!!”

Later, I realized the how and why’s of it. I cast judgement on her too quickly as a reader.  I now understood. 

Serle then threw a pair of twists I thought clever and all in all it wrapped things up neatly and well. 

Want to visit Positano and read a good story? One Italian Summer will work well for that.

Cava / Jamon and Peas Fared Well in Debut

If you know me you know how I live. My life is nestled very comfortably on the receiving end of a beautiful relationship with my best friend. Not unlike Secretariat in his ’73 Belmont Stakes, she, too, moves like a tremendous machine. However her track isn’t The Big Sandy, it’s our kitchen.

Her name is Stacy and she has more cookbooks than anyone I know. Constantly trying new things, new dinners, appetizers, drinks, whatever strikes her fancy, if she comes across something new that causes her to raise an eyebrow, it’s usually on our book shelf within a week.

Her latest? Wine Food by Dana Frank and Andrea Slonecker (Lorena Jones Books).

It is a wine course in a cookbook for those of us with an interest in learning more about wine the best way there is: by drinking it. Their hook? Recipes that are not typically partnered with wines but deserve to be.

Frank is a sommelier and Slonecker a “wine loving recipe writer” who combined their expertise to give us nearly 70 wine and food combinations worth trying. Categories range from brunches, salads, picnics, cozy nights in and so much more.

Our first venture was from the “Prefunk” category. The wine, a Spanish sparkling white called Cava.

Made mostly in the NW region of Catalonia, it’s generally composed of the grapes macebeo, parellada and xarel-lo. Bubbly like Champagne but not as expensive. Both however are made the same way. The second fermentation – the one that makes the wine sparkling – occurs in the bottle itself.

Cava goes beautifully with Spanish ham. The Spanish jamon and Cava are, as the authors put it, “old friends.”

The ham is a bit gamey, but also salty and fatty and the authors believe it is the perfect compliment to Cava.

They weren’t wrong. They paired beautifully.

The Cava impressed Stacy more than it did me. She smelled baklava but didn’t feel the wine was sweet.

Me? The citrus and baked apples were all I smelled. Perhaps to those with a better nose they would have smelled the pastries (Stace did) and the honey. Stace caught a whiff of that also. But not me.

Along with the ciabatta bread (with a dash of olive oil), the jamon, prosciutto, Parmesan and machego cheeses was a spread put together with sweet peas, mint, lemon zest, salt, pepper, a bit of mancehgo cheese and lemon juice. Very refreshing and light.

Not to my particular liking as the mint played a more prominent role than I would have liked, although the refreshing aspect of the spread paired really well with the Cava; no doubt. Not the case with Stacy, however. She was really pleased with the sweet pea spread, putting it on toasted ciabatta and also water crackers.

Overall, a fun debut into our Wine Food adventures, with so many more to try. We are excited to try them all and although we have not yet decided what is on next week’s menu, we do have three bottles of wine suggested by the book to choose from.

Can’t wait to try something new again and to share it all here with you.

A 52-Year Old Bug Boy

It was unexpected, really. Getting bit by the horse racing bug again. In June I went to Kentucky to spend a three day weekend with two wonderful friends. One of those days were spent at Churchill downs. 

Two of my favorite humans, and me

I met both of these friends of mine at race tracks in Portland Oregon 17 years ago so there was already a horse racing connection here. When I got home at the end of that weekend not only was I invigorated and re-charged from time with amazing human beings, I found myself missing the grandeur and the thrill of horse racing.

Fast forward a couple of weeks to a weekend in July when my fiancé Stacy and I joined our neighbors Mike and Trish for a day at Monmouth Park. I spent some time working at Monmouth Park in the late 90s stood in front of the wire when Serena’s Song won the Haskell. That evening I had drinks with Bob and Beverly Lewis. I loved it then, and over time, slowly lost interest. I became disenchanted.

After spending time leaning on the fence of the walking ring, watching riders getting their instructions, the leg up, the walk around the ring and then out to the track. Well, it felt special again.

I got the bug again.


In one of those post parades we looked up and saw a female rider that we were not familiar with. Stacy went and plunked a couple of galleons on her and she rode  this 12-1 horse to victory like it was 9/5.  After she took a winner circle picture and weighed back in, we called to her and asked if she would take a picture. Kind and gracious, she immediately said yes. 

With no pretense and a smile as big and beautiful as the game we love, Ferrin Peterson smiled for the camera. On our way home we wanted to find out more about this rider we had never heard of. What we learned left us in shock.

Ferrin Peterson the jockey is also Dr. Ferrin  Peterson the equine veterinarian. 

I have been around horse racing for a long time. I cannot tell you a single solitary person that I’ve heard of who works for a living as a jockey and had an advanced degree. I certainly cannot name a single rider that is ever been referred to as Dr. before. 

Dr. Peterson and Stacy

I immediately have become fascinated by this person’s education, career path and the trajectory she is setting for herself. 

What a day.  It gave me goosebumps again. I cannot tell you the last time I got goosebumps at the racetrack racetrack but as my buddy says “If it gives you chills, it should be in your life.”

That’s some good advice right there. 

When I got home after the races I turned on the TV and watched the replays on YouTube. 

I went online and found the Saratoga Special newspaper from, downloaded their most recent additions and familiarized myself with some names I’ve known in this game for a long time. It was so much fun.

From childhood through into my early 30s I love thoroughbred horse racing with a passion. Then, for a myriad of reasons, I didn’t. That daily passion left me, leaving an interest only in the big days.

Well, after a couple of trips experiencing live racing again, that passion seems to be coming back slowly and surely.

I got the bug again.