Long before Atlantic City had casino gambling – legal casino gambling, that is – there was the Atlantic City Race Course
, where crowds packed the stands regularly to cheer on their favorites in the hopes of hitting it big on a long shot.
Founded in 1944, the Track in Mays Landing was started by an aristocratic conglomerate of Hollywood celebrities and business magnates, including Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Xavier Cugat and John B. Kelly, Sr., the businessman/Olympic athlete father of Grace Kelly, who later became Princess Grace of Monaco.
With that kind of lineage, it was a sure bet. Racing fans of all ages and walks of life gathered throughout the summer to mingle, watch and wager. Upwards of 30,000 people came out to watch prominent races like the United Nations Handicap and the Matchmaker Stakes, which attracted top runners.
Back then, no summer visit to Atlantic City was complete without a night at the races.
Live Thoroughbred Racing this Spring
Fast forward to 2013, and you can still enjoy live racing at Atlantic City Race Course
. For six excitement-packed days, all-turf Thoroughbred racing can leave you breathless. Race days this year are April 25-28, April 30 and May 1. Post time is 3:30 p.m. Best of all, admission is free.
Never been to the races? Not to worry. There’s a simple layout of the facilities:
The Racing Form, with information about the horses entered into each race of that day, is available for a small charge.
You can watch the jockeys saddle up and lead the horses through the parade ring, where you can get fairly close up and personal before they hit the track. Or, you can watch from the stands where they’ll parade part of the way around the track before taking their positions at the gate. Then, with a flourish of excitement and speed, they’re off and racing, and you’ll be up and cheering.
In between races, there’s plenty of time to place your next bet at a machine or with a live teller, and cash in your winning tickets from previous races. Screens throughout the wagering area show current odds for the next race and final results from previous races.
Step Right Up and Place Your Bets
Bets can be inexpensive, straight forward $2 wagers, or as expensive and complex as you like. Even the smallest wagers can add excitement.
The most straight-forward bets are:
you bet on a specific horse (by its numbered position at the post) to win. You win a specific amount, based on that day’s wagers and odds, if it comes in first.
you bet on a specific horse to come in third. You win different amounts if it comes in first, second or third.
It gets more complex from there, with Exactas (you pick the first and second place winners, in order), Trifectas (you pick the first three horses, in order) and other multiple-horse bets.
Simulcasting All Year
Hooked on the horses? You can also visit Atlantic City Race Course
the rest of the year, when you can play the ponies at other tracks around the country through the modern technology of off-track betting.