04/26/2005 11:00PM

Atlantic City track report

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Atlantic City Race Course in New Jersey will run the first card of a brief, all-turf meet on Friday, beginning what is certainly one of the most unusual meets at any racetrack in the United States.

Races at the track will not be available for betting to any horseplayers other than those on the racetrack grounds, a somewhat paradoxical situation considering the track holds a meet each year only to retain the right to offer simulcasts year-round. As a result, in an era when races from even minor racetracks are routinely beamed to horseplayers around the country, Atlantic City's races will be watched by only the people in the track's historic grandstand.

Founded in 1944 and once one of the East Coast's most popular racetracks, Atlantic City is owned by Greenwood Racing, the owner of Philadelphia Park. Greenwood bought Atlantic City in 2001, and since then, the track has run abbreviated all-turf meets in order to comply with state law requiring live racing in order to offer simulcasting.

The state law requires that Atlantic City run for 10 days, but the track's management is running six days of that requirement at Monmouth Park in Oceanport this year. Last year, Atlantic City held a five-day race meet, with the other five days at Monmouth. Revenues from dark-day simulcasting at Atlantic City are used to provide purses for the 10 days of racing.

Two of the track's four live race cards will be for steeplechase races, including the opening-day card on Friday. Entries for the six races will be taken by the National Steeplechase Association. The NSA will also take entries on Atlantic City's last live racing date, May 13, for another six-race steeplechase card. Both cards will include one flat race restricted to steeplechase horses, according to Sal Sinatra, the racing secretary at Philadelphia Park and Atlantic City.

Thoroughbred racing will take place on two dates, May 4 and 5, a Wednesday and Thursday. Post time for all four racing days is 3 p.m., with races held every half hour.

"It's pretty simple," Sinatra said. "More like a fair meeting than anything else."