04/23/2013 2:40PM

Atlantic City: Six-day, all-turf meet opens

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Thirty-seven races, all on turf, over six racing days. Welcome back to the itty bitty Atlantic City race meet.

Atlantic City Race Course is scheduled to open Thursday, with the first of four consecutive all-turf cards. The track will take a one-day break before returning for two more days of racing, closing on May 1.

First post each day is 3:30 p.m. Eastern, allowing area job-holders to sneak out a little early if they’re interested in live-racing action. The track will once again offer free admission and free parking on race days.

All six races on opening day, a mix of maiden special weights and starter allowances, have 12-horse fields. There are 71 horses entered on day two; 65 horses on day three; 67 horses on day four; and 70 horses on day five. On the seven-race closing-day card, 73 horses were entered for seven races, including 10 in the meet’s only stakes, the five-furlong, $50,000 Tony Gatto Dream Big.

That’s an average of 11.3 horses per race for the entire meet. Granted, it’s for turf races, which typically draw larger fields than dirt races, at a time when turf racing is just gearing up at northeast tracks, but the track is putting up that average at a time when many tracks are struggling to put eight horses in the gate.

“A lot of it has to do with the turf course, which just looks spectacular again this year,” said Maureen Bugdon-Gallagher, the track’s general manager. “But a lot of it is also Sal Sinatra’s work to put on good cards, and some of it is also nostalgia. This is South Jersey’s last racetrack, and I think people really like to come here because of the way the track brings back memories.”

Last year, the track posted a record for ontrack attendance on the last day of its meet when more than 11,000 people packed the small grandstand. Bugdon-Gallagher said the typical crowd at the meet is an “outdoor crowd,” and to that end, the track installed a new open-air betting pavilion by its paddock, opened a new outdoor bar, and set up outdoor restroom facilities.

“They walk in the front and go straight to the apron, the paddock, and then the rail to watch the races,” Bugdon-Gallagher said. “This is a crowd that like to be outside.”

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
seb They go outside because the building looks like it's going to fall down. Everybody is crammed into first floor grandstand area. You can't breathe. Don't get me wrong. I love the place, or at lesat what it "used to be". I used to go with my father in the 60's and continued as a young adult later on when Levy tried to leverage the Matchmaker and Ceasers International to make ACRC a major player in the northeast. But alas, the nostalgia can only take you so far. My wife and I had to leave after the 3rd race Sunday because it is not conducive to a horseplayer experience. They are not staffed or equipped to handle 10K plus people. It makes good press, but poor execution. They tried hard ... the staff and tellers and track personnel ... are terrific ... they just got handed an impossible task. If they do not make plans to "do this right", and invest some money in infrastructure and planning ... then I just can't support it anymore. Figure out how to do it right ... or don't do it at all.
Richard Chialastri More than 1 year ago
no pick 3, pick 4 or pick 6 betting. Can you imagine the pool if they had a pick 6 that went the entire six days to get hit. It would be amazing. But they own Parx they talk a good game but do not want success
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Gotta wonder if ACRC would do better with their few races carded on weekends?
edb More than 1 year ago
Just enjoy old school racing and a nice day outside. Will be alot of fun and few longshots usually put nice numbers on the tote board.
Michael Infurna More than 1 year ago
Why can't the owners of AC Race course find some money to extend the meet by a week or 2 or add a week in the fall? 12 horse races, great crowds and record handles, why would anyone want to continue that instead of watching 5 horse fields of 7500 weather beaten claimers or horses running over the horrendous PARX turf course??
peter k More than 1 year ago
The turf course at Parx is horrendous - probably the worst in the country . And the dirt racing there is matched by the worst bettig menu ,odds board ,tote board , etc etc The reason is the management only cares about the alternative gaming . Mondays and tuesdays in the winter and late spring are no bet days and parx is the only track running
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
The State of New Jersey just won't have that. There was a time before Resorts Casino opened in '78 that ACRC could have become the kingpin of simulcast wagering (and ontrack racing) but the vision wasn't there. When the town of Atlantic City went down the tubes, it took ACRC down with it. The real killer was the State forcing tracks to run head to head against each other. The old schedule with Garden State spring - then to Monmouth Park - ACRC and then Garden State fall was perfect.
Russell More than 1 year ago
Record Handles? Atlantic City handles are crap. The average per race handle is a fraction of Parx's handle.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Doesn't simulcast pay track odds?