Monday, May 2, 2011

A Day at the Races

Right in my backyard
I visited the Atlantic City Race Course on Saturday.  The race track was founded in 1944 and sports a one mile and an eighth main track and a one mile long turf course.  Fans describe the turf course as one of the nicest in the country and it is the only oval at A.C. that still enjoys the presence of the thoroughbred athlete.  The Race Course offers televised simulcast races throughout the year and only hosts live races for the six days required to maintain a simulcasting license.  At about 66 years of age, the A.C. Race Course is a shadow of its former self.  Except for a receiving barn, the stables no longer house horses and the grandstands are quiet for most of the year.  However, this past Saturday, the track came to life.  The parking lot was surprisingly full as we drove up to park and a crowd of racing enthusiasts surrounded the paddock area.  The atmosphere was somewhat surreal, as handsomely muscled thoroughbreds marched around with the Hamilton Mall and local townhouses as a backdrop.

I used to live so close to this track that I would have been able to hear the bugle call from my doorstep.

Time to check out the thoroughbreds.

I liked #7 in the first race, even though I did not know her name.

This dark horse was lovely.  I liked her build and muscle tone.  I felt that she looked healthy and was relatively relaxed.  She had yet to break her maiden (first win).  Unfortunately, her run on Saturday was unimpressive, finishing in the middle of the pack.  Perhaps I am better at picking future OTTB than winning race horses!

My next pick was also based on looks, but she had the movement to match.  Her name was Octomon and she was a gorgeous steel gray with some dappling.  She was the only horse in her race without a lead pony.  She had a lovely canter and warm up gallop.  I also noticed the jockey asking her to leg yield as she was waiting to enter the gate.  She looked like a very athletic girl.  Future OTTB dressage prospect?

And she won her race!  A nice shot of the crowd and the far off, yet lovely, Octomon.  She is looking right at the camera.
The intensity of the thoroughbred race horse in full gallop is awe-inspiring, but I do not see thoroughbred racing with rose-colored glasses.  I am not a gambling fan and I did not like the restraints used on the mouths of the horses walking in the paddock area.  I also do not like the idea of animals being treated as commodities, which is a risk whenever a bottom line is present.  Hopefully, most race horses are treated very well, since their performance depends upon excellent care.  Many people who train and own these animals do truly love the thoroughbred and are dedicated to these beautiful athletes.

As a private horse owner, I must acknowledge the importance of thoroughbred and standardbred racing in New Jersey, despite my reservations.  Without this industry, recreational horse owners would not enjoy the experienced equine professionals who are at our fingertips.  The prices and availability of feed, hay, and supplies are also dependent upon the presence of the racing industry.  I hope this is an industry that persists in our state.  The crowd of visitors on Saturday may indicate that racing still has a future and the hope of a revival for the Atlantic City Race Course.


  1. Just discovered you - your horse is lovely. We have two buckskins at our barn, and the gelding looks a lot like your boy, although much larger - Scout is at least 16.2.

  2. Thank you for your kind words, Kate. Harley is petite, like me. ;)

    My blog is new! Reading your comment is a delightful surprise.


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