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Horse racing not coming to Atlantic City beach this year

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The grand plan to bring horse racing to Atlantic City's beach this Columbus Day weekend has fizzled — at least for now.

Despite receiving Gov. Chris Christie's signature on a bill last month permitting its use, the race, which will be called the "American Palio in Atlantic City," will have to wait until at least next year before it becomes a reality.

Jeff Guaracino, spokesperson for the Atlantic City Alliance, said a number of dates during the calendar year had been considered — including Columbus Day weekend — but ultimately none were chosen.

"This date is not available this year," Guaracino said.

Guaracino was quick to point out that while the race will not be taking place before the end of the year, it had never been officially placed on the calendar to begin with and thus, has not necessarily been cancelled. He declined to speculate as to when the race might take place in the future.

"It just has not yet been scheduled," he said.

Dennis Drazin, an adviser to the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, said the legislation was finalized too late and time ran out on any chance of getting the race in this year.
 
"We were just running out of time," Drazin said. "We want to do it right if we're going to do it."
 
With nothing yet set in stone, Drazin said he hopes the race will be held either next spring or fall.

The race is modeled after the centuries-old Palio di Siena, a biannual racing event held in Siena, Italy. While the Italian version features a one-half mile track around the town square, Atlantic City's version would offer a distance of three quarters of a mile along the beach.

Early plans have called for a total of 50 horses to compete in a series of elimination races before the field is narrowed down to 10 for the championship race.

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Andrew George

Andrew George

Andrew George covers the Statehouse from NJBIZ's Trenton bureau. Born and raised in N.J., Andrew has also spent time as a reporter in D.C., Texas and Pa. His email is andrewg@njbiz.com and he is @AndrGeorge on Twitter.

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