Atlantic City Race Course celebrated 66 seasons of racing in 2011. The track, which preceded the casinos by decades as South Jersey's first gambling establishment, boasts one of the most colorful histories in the racing world. The Association was founded in 1944 by a virtual "Who's Who" of businessmen, athletes, and Hollywood personalities, each sharing an unbridled passion for horse racing. Original stockholders included the legendary Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, and six of the nation's big band leaders: Kay Kyser, Phil Spitalny, Harry James, Xavier Cugat, Sammy Kaye, and Axel Stordahi. John B. Kelly Sr., Olympic gold medalist and father of the late Princess Grace, was Atlantic City's first president.
The south Jersey track has carded an annual summer race meet since its grand opening in 1946. Racing fans in those early days were mesmerized by the glamour of a sport which assembled the heroes of racing and attracted Hollywood's finest. With the debut of the United Nations Handicap in 1953, crowds of more than 30,000 were witness to equine stars like Round Table, Mongo, and Dr. Fager, as Atlantic City blazed forward in setting the standard for turf competition in North America.
In the decades that followed, Atlantic City Race Course continued to flourish under the tutelage of Philadelphia's Levy family. Through Dr. and Mrs. Leon Levy and their son Robert, ACRC's reputation continued as an industry trailblazer. The introduction of events like the Matchmaker Stakes kept AC Race Course quite prominent in the national press. Known as the "Race for Love & Money," the Matchmaker awarded its winners with stallion seasons in addition to purse money, a unique concept that made this race second only to the famed United Nations Handicap at ACRC. Atlantic City also spearheaded milestones like the nation's first simulcast and races that bridged the gap between the seashore's famed boardwalk and the mainland racetrack, including the World's Playground Stakes, the Miss America Pageant Stakes, and the Caesars International Handicap.
In October of 2001, AC Race Course was sold to Greenwood Racing, Inc., owner of Philadelphia Park and six "Turf Clubs" located in Pennsylvania. In December of 2006, the long-awaited Philadelphia Park Casino opened in the renovated grandstand of Philadelphia Park, allowing slot gaming and horseracing to coexist in the same venue. In 2010, the Philadelphia Park Casino became known as Parx Casino, opened as a brand-new 260,000 square foot, state-of-the-art casino adjacent to and replacing the temporary Grandstand venue. Greenwood also owns and operates "Favorites at Vineland," New Jersey's first off-track wagering parlor & sports bar located on Delsea Drive in Cumberland County. Favorites at Vineland opened in March of 2007. Through Greenwood Racing, the triumphs of Atlantic City Race Course carry on with six incredible days of all-turf Thoroughbred racing April 27 - May 3. For 67 years and counting, Atlantic City Race Course has been Atlantic City's longest running hit. Whether your first or thousandth visit, we're sure you'll love the track famous for "A Smile and an Eighth."