Six day racing season opens at Atlantic City Race Course

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Atlantic City Race Course Charlie Pritchard/The “Dream Big Bar” named in honor of former track superintendent Tony Gatto is a new attraction for visitors to the Atlantic City Race Course. HAMILTON TOWNSHIP – Full fields and large crowds are expected when the Atlantic City Race Course opens its 69th season on Thursday, April 24. The track will offer six days of live racing with a post time of 3:30 p.m. to accommodate those who may want to visit after work and also bring their children after school hours.

“We will have six races on the turf course each day, except for the final day on Wednesday, April 30 when there will be seven races,” said Mary Jo Couts, the track’s Director of Operations and Mutual Manager.

"The additional race that day will be the annual Tony Gatto Big Dreams Stakes Race, named in honor of the late former track superintendent," Couts said. That race is a five furlong race for three year olds and up and has a $50,000 added purse.

The past few years have seen an ever-increasing amount of racing fans. More than 13,000 fans attended the Sunday program at last year’s meet which was the largest crowd at the track in 30 years.

Owners and trainers are also anxious to bring their horses to the meet. According to Couts, 10-12 horses are entered for each race during the meet. “We are acknowledged to have the best turf course in the country and trainers are excited to bring their horses here,” she said.

There are some new enhancements this year for track-goers. The “Dream Big Bar,” named in honor of Tony Gatto, will accommodate those who seek liquid refreshment. There will also be special betting lines for new bettors with very patient clerks who will help inexperienced bettors navigate the betting process. Part of the rationale for this is to attract a younger crowd that may not be familiar with the betting process. “We need to cultivate new business by enticing members of the younger set,” Couts said.

The track has also seen an increase of bettors due to the closing of many of the simulcast parlors in the Atlantic City casinos. With the closing of simulcasting establishments in the three Caesar’s properties, the only remaining one is in the Borgata. “We have seen an increase in attendance, especially on weekends,” Couts said. “Unlike the casinos, everything here is free including admission and parking.”

But there is a flip side to that story. Officials at the track would enjoy having an extended racing season. But that is questionable, since funding for the purses to attract owners to bring their horses is even more limited due to decreased funding as a result of fewer casinos contributing into a simulcasting fund.

The meet will run from Thursday, April 24 through Wednesday, April 30 with the facility closed on Monday, April 28.

acrc2 Charlie Pritchard/New betting lines will cater to inexperienced racing fans. acrc3 Charlie Pritchard/The Atlantic City Race Course turf course is acknowledged to be the best in the country.

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