Atlantic City Submits Revised Dates Request to Jersey Commission

Atlantic City Submits Revised Dates Request to Jersey Commission
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James Murphy, Atlantic City president, said track had filed an amended request for 10 race dates in 2001.
Moving quickly after the New Jersey Racing Commission rejected its original application for an eight-day stand, Atlantic City Racecourse re-applied Wednesday for ten 2001 dates, according to track president James J. Murphy.

"We asked for 10 dates to be run from Thursday, May 3 through Monday, May 14," said Murphy. "I don't anticipate a problem in getting them approved by the commission."

Murphy said the reason why the commission turned down Atlantic City's first request for eight dates, which were to be run between May 11-21, was because it felt they were "too close" to the opening of Monmouth Park's season, which kicks off on May 26.

"I also think that those issues at Garden State Park had everybody stirred up and unfortunately we were caught up in it," said Murphy. Murphy said the commission will schedule a meeting early in December to address Atlantic City's application.

The commission also rejected Garden State's 2001 dates application for
six days (May 3-8) before a large and frustrated group of state horsemen,
many of whom had traveled to the meeting via a chartered bus from the
Meadowlands.


In the unprecedented and unexpected move, the commission rejected the 2001 dates applications of Atlantic City and Garden State Park, but did approve the dates of the two New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority racetracks, Monmouth Park and Meadowlands.

"I'm rather surprised," Murphy said following Tuesday's action. "The last two years our meets have been a success. We didn't have any warning this might occur."

The rejection of Garden State's six dates, which were from May 3-8 and all on the turf, was nearly unanimous, with only one commissioner -- Dr. Daniel Monaco -- voting to accept the Cherry Hill oval's application.

If it is not amended, the commission's action also means that more than $2 million in simulcast revenues accrued during 2000 by both tracks will revert to the standardbred industry and not to Thoroughbred purses. If Atlantic City does not run a 2001 meet, it will lose its permit and not be allowed to simulcast.

"We'll think about this and then act accordingly," said Richard Orbann, president of Garden State Park, who said he was "disappointed" that the Commission rejected the dates. It did, however, approve Garden's 55-day harness meet request, which will allow it to simulcast in 2001.

Citing severe losses in handle and attendance plus little support from state horsemen, Orbann said the six-day meet was the only viable alternative for the troubled Cherry Hill oval, which suffered a 30 percent dip in on-track handle and 23 percent drop in "simulcasting out" revenue in 2000.

If Atlantic City and Garden State do not run a Thoroughbred meet next year, it will mark the first time since 1942, when Garden State was built, that there will be no live racing in south Jersey.

Tuesday's meeting was held before a large crowd of racetrack officials, and press, as well as horsemen, many of which traveled to the meeting via a chartered bus from the Meadowlands.

"The Commission's response was appropriate," said trainer John Forbes, vice president of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, Inc. "Six to eight day meets are just not acceptable to ensure the survival of the racing industry in this state."

Monmouth Park will run a 72 day meet in 2001, from May 26 through September 2, while Meadowlands asked for and was granted 49 dates, which is four days less than it ran in 2000.

"This year we ran into a number of problems after the Breeders' Cup," said Bruce Garland, senior vice president of the NJSEA. "Nine of the 14 days we had 68 or less horses entered on each card and we lost a significant number of trifecta opportunities. Our handle suffered on-track and nationally via simulcasting."

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