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Ladies Day

2020 Update

Atlantic City Race Course opened for business in the Summer of 1946. If you were part of that opening day crowd, you could have possibly been greeted by one of the tracks owners, Bob Hope. From that time until the late seventies, Atlantic City was part of the New Jersey racing circuit that included Garden State, and Monmouth Park. In the late sixties and early seventies, Atlantic City ran it's meet in late summer, the track was beautifully adorned with flowers cascading from the grandstand boxes. The Heli-pad also saw it's fair share of usage as top jockeys flew in to ride in major stakes races. It was great summer fun, but an early winter was on the horizon.

Ladies DayThe good times lasted until 1977 then things went from good, to bad, to worse. In April of 1977 a fire at Garden State Park disrupted New Jerseys racing circuit, that was the bad. The worst, New Jersey voters approved casino gambling and guess where the casinos would be located? In 1978 the first casinos opened in nearby Atlantic City, the popularity of horse racing in New Jersey was on the decline, especially at Atlantic City Race Course. The track would fight on, try some new things, but the outcome didn't change.

Over the years Atlantic City, tried to give the fans a good product and wasn't afraid of trying new options. It's signature race was the United Nations Handicap, a turf race featuring American and European stars. They also had the Matchmaker Stakes a race for fillies, who not only won a purse, but were assured a date with a top stud. The race was nicknamed "for love and money". Another innovation was the addition of harness racing in 1968. Surprisingly Atlantic City was the first track in New Jersey to present night time harness racing on it's new five eights mile oval.

In 1990 The United Nations Handicap, was renamed the Caesars International until it's last running at Atlantic City in 1997. No race was run in 98, but in 1999 the race was renamed the United Nations Stakes and moved to Monmouth Park where it is still run. In 1976 the track took a page out of the harness book, installed lighting around to mile oval and held night thoroughbred racing. Another historical note, Hall of Famer, Kelso won his first race over the Atlantic City Course in 1959, paying a whooping $14.00, during the rest of his career he would never come close to going of 6-1 again.

In 2013 Atlantic City still manages to run a week of racing exclusively on the turf, a dirt race hasn't been carded since 1997. This years racing ended with Kendrick Carmouche grabbing top jock honors for a third straight year. He probably wishes they had a longer meet. So the track near the Jersey Shore keeps limping along, waiting for the summer sun to set, with no chance of a re birth.

2020 Update

The 1971 version of Atlantic City Race Course that I went to, is a far cry from today. Back then it was out in the sticks, (maybe everything was out in the sticks back then) over the years it's been squeezed, a mall to one side, a housing development on the other. The track was actually squeezing itself, the last legitimate meet was in 1997, after that it only ran a few days a year to satisfy simulcasting requirements. The last horses crossed the finish line in 2014, and the charade was put to rest in January, 2015. From the best I can figure, is that it's still standing, so still a chance to see it. Probably wont be as pretty as it used to be!    

Going over some research I came across an old forgotten racehorse "Gussie Mae" the predecessor to Zippy Chippy. On June 7, 1995 he loaded into the gate for the 87th time, one short of the record for most losses by a racehorse, he didn't break the record. It also made me remember track announcer Larry Lederman and the fun he had calling that horse. He had fun with every race at Atlantic City, they let him run wild, and those were some hilarious race calls.