The resilient Atlantic City Race Course in Mays Landing, N.J., was celebrating 50 years, and writer Bill Mooney explored the track’s history, glory days and evolution.
The track’s premier event, the $500,000 Caesars International Handicap-G1 (formerly the United Nations), drew a talented field of nine, including five Grade/Group 1 winners, and five shipped in from California, lured by a Caesars bonus. The nationally-televised race was won by one of the shippers, the flashy Brazilian champion Sandpit (Brz), trained by Richard Mandella. Primarily a simulcast facility in its final years, Atlantic City Race Course closed permanently in January 2015.
- As Monmouth Park celebrated its 50th anniversary, Bob and Beverly Lewis’ Serena’s Song stormed her way into the history books as the first filly to win the Grade 1 Haskell Handicap. Facing off against 10 colts, the bay daughter of Rahy was sent off as the 3-2 favorite and theoretical 118-pound highweight. Serena’s Song, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, hit the wire three-quarters of a length ahead of Pyramid Peak.
- Virginia’s procession toward Thoroughbred pari-mutuel racing leaped forward as the Virginia Racing Commission approved racetrack owner Arnold Stansley’s first satellite wagering facility in the Tidewater-area city of Chesapeake. Construction of the new track Colonial Downs, in Kent County, had been stalled by an appeal pursued by unsuccessful license applicant James Wilson.
- Burt Bacharach’s Grade 1-winning homebred Soul of the Matter, a son of former Maryland stallion Private Terms trained by Richard Mandella, became West Virginia’s first millionaire when he finished second in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar, earning $200,000 and pushing his lifetime total to $1,130,368.
- Mid-Atlantic-bred runners were sweeping Grade 1 races across the country. Maryland-breds adding to their Grade 1 totals were Ryehill Farm’s Awad in the Manhattan Stakes at Belmont Park, Allen E. Paulson’s Cigar in the Hollywood Gold Cup at Hollywood Park, and Robert E. Meyerhoff’s Concern in the Californian Stakes at Hollywood Park– the three had combined to win 10 Grade 1 races.
Middletown Stables’ New Jersey-bred Classy Mirage captured the Ballerina Handicap at Saratoga. Flying Zee Stable’s Key Contender took Belmont’s Suburban Handicap, and Morven Stud Farm’s Unaccounted For scored in Saratoga’s Whitney Handicap. The first four were homebreds; Key Contender was bred by Paul Mellon in Virginia and Unaccounted For was bred in Pennsylvania by Derry Meeting Farm and Brushwood Stable.