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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Walking Barefoot

- Always encouraging when we see the occasional outbursts of interest in our sport, especially those other than at Saratoga, Oaklawn, or Keeneland. Atlantic City opens its ultimate boutique meet today - six days, Wed - Friday this week and next. With virtually no promotion - not even an active website - the meet drew surprisingly well last year.

Last year's four-day meet drew a total of 18,442 fans, which was the highest of any track in the country during that time period. The final day's attendance was just less than 6,000.

Only Churchill Downs, which was hosting the Kentucky Derby the same day, had a bigger crowd. [Press of Atlantic City]
Really? I'm skeptical about that, but guess we'll take their word for it. All the races will be on the grass course, still recognized as the best on the East Coast.
It is so plush that course officials are planning to stage a promotion sometime during the meet that allows fans to walk the turf barefoot, much like groundskeepers at other tracks do to get a feel for what a state-of-the-art grass surface should feel like.
I'd like to hear a similar offer for a Polytrack venue, though I suppose we'd be picking various and sundry debris out of our toenails for weeks!

On Friday, Mr. W.B. will run at A.C. in a 5 1/2 furlong sprint for Kasey K. Yeah, I know I wrote that he would get a break. But he's done well since switching to Keith Lebarron at Philly Park, and is ready to go. And a week from Friday, Primal Peak gets a shot at a sprint stakes there. Lebarron has done quite a job with that one and Foolish Bid. "He's Todd Pletcher to me," Bob told me. Whatsmore, he's the Toddster at about half the day rate, and at a track offering outsize purses, moderate competition, and middling field sizes - bad for bettors and handle perhaps, but good for the horsemen there indeed.


Anonymous said...

I grabbed a handful of Poly at Keeneland. It clumped up into a snowball-like mass when it was wet and it broke apart in my hands as I threw it back down onto the track.

Walked on it a bit - it felt bouncy but as you surmised, would NOT want to walk on it barefoot!!

Anonymous said...

CAPITOL : NYRA’s bankruptcy plan likely to get OK

BY BOB CONNER Gazette Reporter
New York Racing Association President Charles Hayward said Tuesday that he expects NYRA’s plan to emerge from bankruptcy will be approved on Monday by a federal judge in Manhattan.

But Hayward said the effective date of NYRA’s coming out of bankruptcy will likely be postponed, as it settles litigation and works out other agreements with the state.


Anonymous said...

I believe I've read that Michael Dickinson promoted the comfort of his Tapeta footing by saying he's walked on it in barefeet. Perhaps thats why Tapeta is Latin for "carpet".

Polytrack and Tapeta surfaces of course being different in subtle respects.

I'm glad the Atlantic City course does well and has held out as long as they have. The DRF yesterday cited that it might be just so the opperators from PA can circumvent certain payouts to horsemen to the tune of about $1.5 million.

As for the dubious claim with the attendance being the highest - I dare say that the Virginia Gold Cup held in The Plains, VA (albeit steeplechasing) always the same day as the Ky Derby pulls in at least 45,000 fans and can be upwards of 60k.

As an aside, among the runners on the undercard at the VA Gold Cup will be the former Nick Zito Preakness starter: Straight Gin (owned formerly by Marylou Whitney, now partly owned by Kim Zito) who is a very popular and successful point to point runner.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame that ATL is not nationally simulcasted....

I remember back in its heydey that it was a staple of the night tracks brought into Vegas...

I hope they can make a comeback.

Teresa said...

I'm playing hooky Thursday afternoon and heading down to ACRC...can't wait.

Want to come?

Alan Mann said...

Dan - I had read a couple of weeks ago that this year's meeting WAS to be available via simulcast elsewhere. But that doesn't seem to be the case....don't see it on the Meadowlands' simulcast schedule.

Teresa - Keep in mind that there are only six live races there. (Yeah, I'm sure that will dissuade her!)

forego is my witness said...

I remember the AC night races in the early 1980s, going with my parents. It really was a little jewel!

Anonymous said...

Forego -

Atlantic City was the first track I ever attended, in the early 70's. My father and uncles let me skip a day of ninth grade and took me with them. This was back before the Meadowlands opened, when Garden State had a spring meet in New Jersey, Monmouth Park had the summer, and Atlantic City had a fall meet. Back then there was no winter racing and no simulcasting.

Sunny Jim