A plan to allow a special horse race on Atlantic City's beach as part of the resort's Columbus Day celebration was unanimously approved Monday by the state Assembly.

The bill, co-sponsored by Assemblyman John Amodeo, R-Atlantic, would grant a special permit to any existing race track in New Jersey to hold the race on the beach, with the event intended to draw crowds to watch the spectacle.

The race would be 6 furlongs, or three quarters of a mile, with organizers most looking at the stretch of sand that starts near the Tropicana Casino and Resort and ends in front of Boardwalk Hall.

The New Jersey Race Commission could only grant one permit per year, with races to occur on no more than two days, according to the bill. The racing commission's permit would also allow betting to take place.

The races would be held on on Oct 11 and 13, to celebrate a 700-year-old Italian tradition called Il Palio, where a rambunctious and dangerous horse race in tight confines has been run in the town of Sienna since the 1500s. Atlantic City's races would be run without risk to horses or jockeys, organizers have said.

A counterpart bill was introduced Monday in the Senate by Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth.

Contact Sarah Watson:


Follow Sarah Watson on Twitter @acpresssarah