Atlantic City Holds Program, But Future in Question

The future of Atlantic City Race Course remains in question after the completion of its one-day program May 10, the only live date for 2002.

Hal Handel, chief executive officer of Greenwood Racing, which purchased the circa-1946 facility from the Atlantic City Racing Association in 2001, said that despite a few glitches, the day was generally a positive one for fans and horsemen. Handle was about $170,000 for seven races.

"We had a pump to the well in the infield lake that supplies water to the grandstand fail for about 45 minutes, but that was quickly fixed," Handel said. "I haven't seen a final report on how we fared financially, but we had a crowd of over 3,000, and even if we lost a few dollars, the day could be considered a success."

Handel said that originally, he had suggested that only six turf races be carded, but Sal Sinatra, Greenwood's director of racing, said there was enough interest from horsemen to card seven.

"Any more than seven--combined with any type of wet weather--could have ruined the course," Handel said. "Plus, we didn't want to write races that could be used at Monmouth Park."

Monmouth absorbed nine of the 10 racing dates awarded to Atlantic City, including more than $1 million that accrued from simulcasting revenues. The decision not to export Atlantic City's seven races was made because it would have been cost-prohibitive, Handel said.

"It really didn't make sense," he said. "The cost of setting up a mobile unit for the one day would have been more than any money we would have made on the signal."

As for Atlantic City's future, Handel said: "I don't have a crystal ball, but I would think a lot has to do with how we move forward in New Jersey in regard to account and off-track wagering. There will have to be some serious money invested in the track, because for years no one really had the money to invest in it and keep it upgraded."

Handel said he believes an October start-up for account wagering in New Jersey is a reasonable target.