04/26/2011 2:33PM

Atlantic City: Breeders' Cup winner entered

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Barbara D. Livingston
Eldaafer, with John Velazquez riding, wins the Breeders' Cup Marathon.

Atlantic City Race Course in New Jersey is scheduled to open on Thursday for a brief six-day meet, highlighted by the possible start of Eldaafer, the winner of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Marathon, in a Saturday allowance race.

Eldaafer – whose win in the Marathon was overshadowed by a disqualification of the second-place finisher and a subsequent fight between jockeys Calvin Borel and Javier Castellano – was one of 12 horses entered in the $27,000 starter allowance race, a one-mile and 40-yard race that is scheduled as the last race on the six-race card.

“We’re thrilled about it,” said Maureen Bugdon, the president of the track. “It’s exciting to have a Breeders’ Cup champion here, and the turf course just looks great.”

Eldaafer, a 6-year-old gelding by A.P. Indy, is the 8-5 morning-line favorite in the race. The horse is coming off a sixth-place finish in the Grade 3 Pan American Stakes on turf March 26 at Gulfstream Park. Earlier in the year, in his first start since winning the Marathon, Eldaafer ran eighth of nine in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap, also at Gulfstream.

All 38 races scheduled for six consecutive days of racing from Thursday through Tuesday will be run on the turf. First post each day is 3:30 p.m., with six races on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday cards, and seven races on the Monday and Tuesday cards. Parking and admission are free.

On opening day, 72 horses have been entered, the maximum allowed. An identical number is entered on the Friday card. The track’s only stakes, the $50,000 Tony Gatto Dream Big Stakes at five furlongs on the turf, is scheduled for closing day.

Though well removed from its heyday, Atlantic City has carved a niche on the Eastern Seaboard over the past several years. Last year, daily average all-sources handle was $649,137, an increase of 19.5 percent over the meet in 2009, and average attendance was 5,803. Average field size last year was 10.1 horses per race.

Under New Jersey law, Atlantic City could not offer year-round simulcasts without running a race meet. The track’s owner, Greenwood Racing – the owner of Parx Racing in Philadelphia – has complied with the minimum requirement for racing dates to keep the track open as a simulcast site, and also on the off chance that alternative gambling, such as slot machines, might be legalized for New Jersey racetracks in the future.

Bugdon said that the Atlantic City signal will go out to approximately 75 out-of-state sites this year, up from approximately 60 last year.

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