An American version of the Italian Palio horse race was officially signed into law today by Gov. Chris Christie.
Plans for the inaugural American Palio at Atlantic City, which would be held on the city's beach, have been under way since June when a bill was passed by the state Legislature.
The bill, co-sponsored by Assesmblymen John Amodeo, Chris Brown and John Burzichelli, permits patrons to place wagers on the race, which will be held in mid-October.
The event is based on a 700-year-old tradition of horse racing in Siena, Italy.
In Siena, the horses race one-half mile around the Town Square, while the resort's version will have horses competing in the American classic distance of three-quarters of a mile on the Atlantic City beach, said Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland.
The American Palio will have a total of 50 horses competing in a series of elimination races that will narrow the field to the 10 runners who will race for the American Palio Championship.
"A horse racing event on the beach is a unique way to create excitement for the horse racing and tourism industries in New Jersey and will attract many fans to Atlantic City," said Amodeo, R-Atlantic.
"It won't be just another day at the beach in Atlantic City," said Brown, R-Atlantic. "Thoroughbreds, jockeys, racing fans and tourists will be part of something quite unique. Watching a horse race against the backdrop of the ocean will be more than a novelty - it will be an annual event."
The Atlantic City Alliance issued a statement thanking the state for approving the bill. The organization noted that the exact name, nature, date, logistics and safety of the event on the beach with horses is still being determined.
Burzichelli said, "Changing state law to allow for this great promotion is the least we can do as we continue striving to make Atlantic City a great place to visit and spend time."
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