Assembly Bill 4149 may mean horse racing will be coming to the Atlantic City beaches on October 11 and October 13. The American Palio Celebration, fashioned after a 700 year tradition in Siena, Italy, will be modified to fit an American version where 50 horses will race on the beach at top speed for 3/4 of a mile.
The bill would authorize the New Jersey Racing Commission to grant Atlantic City a special permit to allow the horse running event.
According to a news release by the Humane Society of the United States, off-track horse races on beaches with uneven surfaces are extremely dangerous to horses, riders, and spectators.
In the Italian version, the race is open to any breed of horse and the horses and their riders proceed at top speed around the 1/2 mile Town Square. According to Philly.com, the Italian version called Il Palio Di Siena, however is "not a day at the beach." Amidst the tons of fancy costumes and pageantry, horses trip, riders fall off, and spectators get hurt, but still the betting for the winning horse continues. The race has been described as "rowdy, raucous, and reckless."
If allowed to be held in Atlantic City, supporters of the race plan to have one horse from each state and eventually narrow the numbers down to ten finalists.
Supporters say the racing event will increase tourism and help the dying racing industry.
Humane supporters contend that beach sand is not a safe venue for horses to race at top speeds.
Bill co-sponsor Assemblyman John Amadeo admits he is still wary of the safety factor for the horses and spectators. A test run using Thoroughbreds is being planned before permission for the race is granted.
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States urges all New Jersey residents to call Governor Christie and ask him to veto A4149:
"Please make a brief, polite phone call to Governor Christie today at 609-292-6000 and urge him to veto A4149. You can say: "As a New Jersey resident, I urge you to veto A4149. Racing horses on New Jersey beaches jeopardizes the safety of horses, riders and spectators." And don't forget to send a follow up message. Thank you for all you do for animals."
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