When its current meet ends on November 28, Scarborough Downs, a harness track in Maine, will be closing – for good. This will leave one active racetrack in Maine (Bangor Raceway) and but two in the whole of New England (the other, Plainridge Park in Massachusetts). Relatedly, both of the remaining tracks are racinos, meaning they are being wholly propped up by government subsidies.
Scarborough opened in 1950 as a Thoroughbred track, but it eventually (1970s) went exclusively harness. Like most of horseracing in general, and virtually all of the harness variety, Scarborough has been in incessant decline for decades. To make matters worse, back in 2016 the track was forced to remove all its horse barns because manure was seeping into local groundwater. The final nail came in 2018 when the massive property was sold to a developer with an eye, the Press Herald reports, toward “a town center with housing, shopping, dining, offices, an interconnected road network, trails, recreation facilities and more.” Yeah, I’d say that’s a whole lot more appealing – not to mention economically stimulating – than an archaic, decrepit racetrack. And an added bonus of a little something called moral progress.