A bit of good news to report. Sterling Suffolk Racecourse LLC, owner of the now-defunct (though still simulcasting) Suffolk Downs, has ended its campaign to bring Thoroughbred racing to Great Barrington, MA. (Sterling Suffolk did not renew a lease it had on the proposed site, an old racetrack in Great Barrington.) This from an article Saturday in The Berkshire Eagle: “In 2018, Sterling Suffolk planned to spend up to $20 million to rebuild the fairgrounds track and buildings for a fall 2020 start. The proposal was met with pushback from groups opposed to horse racing, and from the get-go the company was mired in a regulatory and permitting morass….”
Horseracing Wrongs, I write with pride, has been part of that opposition, working closely with local activists from the start. While true that not all efforts to bring racing back to Massachusetts (and New England) are dead, this was heretofore the most salient threat. So, a victory to savor. (As an aside, there is a push for the town to buy and then convert the property into a park. Now doesn’t that sound a whole lot better than a seedy racetrack that abuses and kills horses?)
Unfortunately, however, the Mass horsemen are still being subsidized, especially the breeders. As The Eagle notes, “[M]illions of dollars in casino and other gambling taxes are funneled to the horse racing industry, including a percentage to the breeders association. With no tracks in Massachusetts, the money, through the state’s Race Horse Development Fund, has been used to set up races in Canada, according to an investigation by WCVB-Channel 5 News.” Can’t you think of better uses – education, infrastructure, covid relief – for that money, Massachusetts? I would hope so.