Suffolk Downs Gearing Up To Host Live Racing This Summer

by | 06.19.2017 | 2:25pm

Live Thoroughbred racing will return to Suffolk Downs this summer with three two-day racing festivals. The first weekend of live racing will be held July 8-9th and will continue August 5-6th and September 2-3rd.

Suffolk Downs will offer purses of approximately $500,000 per day for the six days of racing and both open stakes and Mass-bred stakes. The featured race on Saturday, July 8th is the $75,000 Jill Jellison Memorial Stakes for fillies and mares at five furlongs on the turf. Similar to the last two years, the racing festivals will again include food trucks, craft beer, live music and family fun activities.

In addition to live racing, the track is also planning several promotional events including a National Horseplayers Championship qualifying tournament on Sunday, August 6 which will offer two guaranteed seats to the National Horseplayers Championship in Las Vegas in February. In September, fans will have the opportunity to purchase a commemorative program and Suffolk Downs cap with the proceeds to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.

The festival format has proven popular with local racing fans. Suffolk Downs averaged crowds of 7,000 per day for the 2016 festivals and Suffolk Downs was ranked second among tracks in the 2016 rankings of the Horseplayers Association of North America.

“We look forward to welcoming back fans of live racing and the people who have supported our racing programs for the last several years,” said Suffolk Downs COO, Chip Tuttle. “With purse levels near $500,000 per day and participation bonuses for horsemen to cover their shipping costs, we anticipate strong programs of competitive races for the upcoming festivals.”

In 2015, the track held three single live racing and food truck festival days and last year, the boutique meet expanded to six days to help support the New England HBPA and the Massachusetts Thoroughbred Breeders as both organizations are seeking venues at which to compete for local purse money being generated by expanded gaming in the state.

Entries for both days of racing in July will be drawn on Tuesday, July 4th. The barn area will open for horsemen to arrive on Thursday, July 6th and the track will be open for training on Saturday, July 8th.

The Suffolk Downs property was sold earlier this year to the McClellan Highway Development Company. Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, the operating company for Suffolk Downs, has leased back the premises required for racing and simulcasting for 2017 and 2018.

  • Will LaTulippe

    Less is more! Looking forward to six good cards. If you build it, Boston will come. We’re the best sports city in America. We’ll support a decent live racing program.

    • Bristling

      Build it and they will come ? Suffolk has been there for years and people stopped coming

      • Concerned Observer

        Please stop trying to confuse him with facts.

        • Will LaTulippe

          Well, how many people were you expecting to show up Monday-Wednesday at 12:45 PM? People have day jobs.

          100 dates with 75% on weekday afternoons isn’t the path to growth. Six dates all on weekends with food trucks is. And yes, I know SD is running out the clock, but let this be a lesson on how to grow the sport. 50 weeks a year in Grantville, PA isn’t it.

          • Matthew Fitch

            My first introduction to live racing was the Mass Fair Circuit. That racing is all gone, and in fact most of the fairs are gone now too. If they had space for it, I am convinced racing would be successful at the Big E near Springfield. Huge agricultural fair draws people from across New England.

          • Bryan Langlois

            I agree racing dates need to decrease. However, your model only works if the horseman would agree to that kind of schedule, and I can almost guarantee that unless they would be resigned to the fact some would lose their jobs they never will so long as slots money is there to keep purses up. Most seem gung ho to try and ride the bubble as long as they can until it bursts.

    • snowchrome

      I like what suffolk is trying to do. I hope it’s sucessful and wish them good luck. Looks like the other replies are a couple anti-racing trolls. Wouldn’t worry about it.

      • kuzdal

        You do realize this is their last go-’round, dontcha?

    • kuzdal

      You must be from Prescott, AZ. Sorry….it didn’t work out there, did it?

  • mike

    Less is more , too bad the current managements of what is left of the major tracks in the country do not seem to get it. When racing was a seasonal event, the people were excited and looked forward to it. Now it is like 7-11 it never closes. When is the last time someone got excited about going to 7-11. ???

    • Concerned Observer

      In case you haven’t noticed….Walmart and Casinos are open 24/7, and doing very well. Racetracks are only open a FEW days…because they now only have a FEW fans left.

      • snowchrome

        Well, Wal-mart has something that everybody needs and that is food. Second, playing one-armed bandits doesn’t require a lot of thought and that is just a pull of the lever. Guess you’re saying something about the populace.

        • Concerned Observer

          Yes, and about racing……which has lost it’s place in the heart and mind of the betting public. Have you ever watched the sale of lottery tickets in a convenience store? 24/7 12 months of the year.

          • mike

            you have a much better chance of winning something when wagering on a field of horses than a one armed bandit.

      • mike

        walmart is a store and a casino is a casino. they are not racetracks. they do not produce a “live ” product.

        • Bryan Langlois

          Those who follow the “Faces of Walmart” pages might disagree with that statement :)

    • Michael Infurna

      With a minimum 20% takeout at most tracks, it is impossible to win betting the horses!!

      • mike

        try a slot machine and see how you do.

    • Peter Scarnati

      Every time a track proposes to reduce racing dates, the horsemen are right there to block the move.

      • mike


        • Mr J

          Your full of hog,Mike.Horsemen are always fighting reduced dates. That’s
          why New England racing is dead.

    • RR

      I see the appeal in “boutique meets” but if this were to be the norm then you would see the industry die through people simply not having enough racing opportunities to race their horses and earn money. Also I would not like to see it as a bettor as you would have more spacing between races for horses (something people already complain about} and it would be more difficult for them to hold form. The good thing about long meets is it simplifies handicapping when most of the horses have been running at the same site or one or two tracks close to each other. People complain about the Baffert’s and other bigwigs controlling racing and hurting the game, the boutique meet idea if it were to be the norm rather than the exception would prove to benefit only them, not the little guys who keep racing afloat.

  • DanM

    After Suffolk closes permanently, how about 1 or 2 days running races on Revere Beach – like they do at Laytown in County Louth, Ireland ?

    • J

      I LOVE IT.

  • barn-talk

    This dump needs to be shut down, totally unsafe loaded with rats. This hurts the local horsemen ,just a money grab.

    • Equus

      Define unsafe please. Certainly not the racing surface which has been proven to be very safe. What local horsemen? you mean the horsemen racing elsewhere, many of them very successfully who can return home and participate for great purses in races, some of which are written for them? Purses have to be won, anything but a money grab. You’re either someone with little knowledge or a part-time hobbyist horseman who cannot compete in the real world.

      • Mr J

        Ill be there 1 day each weekend

    • Eric

      The leading riders at Suffolk during their final season of racing in 2014 were Amiss, Panell, and Piermarini – all 3 riders had mounts that earned about 630K for the entire season. The runaway leading trainer in 2014 was Jay Bernardini whose horses earned 584K.

      In the 12 dates that Suffolk ran in 2015-2016, Piermarini’s mounts earned 615K. That’s an entire season’s worth of earnings that she was able to get just by coming home to Suffolk for 3 weekends a year. Amiss’s mounts won 408K. Panell went 2 for 42 but still his mounts earned 161K.

      Bernardini has been the leading money winning trainer in 2015-2016 at Suffolk – his horses earned 395K racing just those limited dates – again, almost a season’s worth of earnings in 6 weekends.

      If you consider the local horsemen to be the horsemen that were racing at Suffolk when they closed, and have come back to race at these “boutique” race dates – the local horsemen are getting their fair share of the available purses, and have an opportunity the other 49 weeks of the year to establish themselves elsewhere.

      • DanM

        That is money which should be put back into the prize pool for slots players.

        • kuzdal

          In a distinct minority but…I agree.

  • Mr J

    Racing is ridiculous in the mid-atlantic and midwest. If they could negotiate a circuit,those tracks would flourish. large fields and big handles. Too many tracks racing too close together

  • ihmeyers

    Purses to be paid via the egregious 4.8% source market fee the commonwealth levies on Mass residents for having the audacity to wager online.

    All to support a 6 day a year meet. Two thumbs up for MORE taxes.

  • BreakingDeadMen

    If that’s the money they have to give, I agree that it’s better to apportion it in a way that promotes good, exciting racecards rather than a dragged out season of incredibly cheap racing. Hopefully they can build it up to a longer meeting in the future, maybe 3 days over 8 weeks or something. Either way, more Sterling Suffolk than Sufferin’ Downs

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