Atlantic City Race Course, which opened April 23 for six days of all-turf racing, will not send out the simulcast signal of its live meet due to a disagreement with the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.
“We were not able to get the approval of the New Jersey horsemen,” said Maureen Bugdon, president of the track. “We are thrilled with the horsemen, but we weren’t able to reach an agreement with the horsemen’s leadership.”
Atlantic City is owned by Greenwood Racing, the owner of Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack in Pennsylvania. The New Jersey Racing Commission told Greenwood last year that Atlantic City would need to run 20 days in 2008 in order to be granted a racing license, but took back the requirement when the track asked for dates. The commission has repeated the condition for 2009.
Daily Racing Form reported that the New Jersey THA had sued the commission over the awarded race dates, and the group is now waiting for a hearing in the Appellate Division of New Jersey Superior Court on the issue. According to Dennis Drazin, president of the horsemen’s group, the hearing could be held before the end of April.
“We’re disappointed (about not sending out a simulcast signal), however we have an incredible six-day turf meet,” Bugdon said. “We are very excited about our fields for the first three days. We have full fields, a lot of excited horsemen, and enormous support from our fans, and we’re just thrilled to be here.”
While Atlantic City has not exported its simulcast signal in recent years, attendance at its brief meets has averaged more than 5,000 per day, which prompted Greenwood to request additional race dates. The boutique meets were conducted primarily to keep the track's year-round simulcasting license.
Atlantic City will card six races a day, all on turf. The meet is slated for April 23-25 and April 30-May 2. The highlight will be the $50,000, five-furlong Tony Gatto Dream Big Stakes, the closing-day feature.
“As stated in previous stories in the last several weeks, we have every intention and it is our desire to continue live Thoroughbred racing at our site, and expand our program for longer race meets in the future,” Bugdon said. “We have no intention to close. We’ve made some very noticeable, modest improvements for this year, and hope to continue that.”