04/25/2012 11:08AM

Atlantic City opens six-day, all-turf meet Friday


Atlantic City Race Course in New Jersey opens its six-day, all-turf meet Friday, with the opening card of six races attracting 72 entries, the maximum number allowed.

The abbreviated meet kicks off the New Jersey Thoroughbred racing calendar, with cards of either six or seven races slated to be held April 27-29 and May 1-3. Racing starts at Monmouth Park on May 12.

First post for each card is 3:30 p.m. Eastern, with races held approximately every 30 minutes. All of the races on the first four cards have drawn either 11 or 12 horses, with one exception, an eight-horse field. The track’s one stakes race, the $50,000 Tony Gatto Dream Big Stakes, is scheduled for closing day, May 3, a Thursday.

Maureen Bugdon, president of Atlantic City, said Wednesday that work crews have been busy preparing the track’s grandstand for this year’s meet. The track has renovated its simulcast center and parking lot since last year, and a new bar and food concession stand has been installed near the paddock, Bugdon said.

“We’ve tried to do everything we possibly could to beautify the place and make the fans feel welcome,” Bugdon said.

Parking and admission will continue to be free, Bugdon said. Last year, the track averaged 5,374 in attendance each day, a figure that Bugdon said the track hopes to improve on because of good weather forecast for this year’s opening weekend.

Atlantic City is owned by Greenwood Racing, which also owns Parx Racing and Casino in Philadelphia. Each year, Parx goes dark while Atlantic City races, providing an influx of horses from eastern Pennsylvania to join the horses in the mid-Atlantic who are looking to run over turf.

In a special promotion, the first 5,000 people through the gates Sunday will receive a ticket to the Automobile Racing Club of America race at Millville, N.J., on July 1. The ARCA circuit is one step below NASCAR racing.