The End of New England Thoroughbred Racing?

This much we know: Suffolk Downs, the sole remaining Thoroughbred track in all of New England, is dying, its product – like that of the majority of tracks in this country – no longer viable. (WBUR: “Chip Tuttle, the racetrack’s COO, says its owners have lost $50 million since 2007.”) So, like so many before it, Suffolk turns, desperately, to the state for a lifeline – racino revenue. Presently, Massachusetts has two prospective sites for a Boston-area casino: Suffolk Downs (Mohegan Sun) and a location in Everett (Wynn Resorts).

Blood-Horse: “The owners of Suffolk Downs in East Boston have been candid in stating that if Mohegan Sun does not prevail, this live racing season will be the last at the 79-year-old track, which is the last of 17 Thoroughbred tracks in New England.” Conversely, should Suffolk/Mohegan win, the Suffolk owners have promised (contractually) “to offer live racing for a minimum of the next 15 years.” Sure, because in this scenario, they’d be flush with casino cash – or as Tuttle calls it, the “pot of gold”; they could then afford to carry racing.


This is a tired tale: Horseracing, which enjoyed a virtual monopoly on legal gambling for decades, generally can no longer compete with casinos and lotteries. So it invokes its “rich tradition” and incessantly warns of economic ruin for the (supposedly) many dependent – racers, breeders, farmers, farriers, grooms, etc. – should it be allowed to fail. Don’t fall for it, Massachusetts. Let the market be what it will be. Racing, at least in New England, is an archaic industry. Let it go. Let it go.

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One comment

  1. And you can rest assured that there is not a percent or even a guaranteed fraction of a percent of ANY of that new casino “pot of gold” that is being set aside for the aftercare of the horses upon whose backs and broken legs they have been earning their own keep for all those years. Would Suffolk Downs like to give up the percent they will receive from any proposed casino “pot of gold” and make their extra money to stay open through fundraisers and donations from the million dollar racing organizations or out of pocket donations from racing fans? Absoluteley not! They are probably first in line for their share of the “pot of gold” but what have they guaranteed to set aside for the horses?

    As far as casinos needed to keep racetracks open, why is that? There have been professional sport teams that have gone bankrupt — even entire leagues even. How many people lost employment then? Yet these TRUE sports never ever asked to have slot machines in their sport arenas. True sports survive or not on their admission and parking fees, their television rights, the public interest. If racing wants to call itself a sport, then let it quit begging for casino handouts.

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