By Lynne Snierson
After an insufficient number of entries forced the cancellation of live racing on May 25, Suffolk Downs was able to card eight races for Saturday, May 28 and live racing is back on schedule at the East Boston track.
Suffolk, which is slated to race three days per week—Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays—during an 80-day meet this year, has about 600 horses on the backside and more outfits have reserved stall space and are still arriving. A long period of inclement New England weather kept many of the horses in the barn in recent weeks rather than out training over the racing strip.
The eight-race card for May 28 has a total of 62 horses and six of those races have fields of six or seven horses. The featured $17,000 allowance race for non-winners of one other than maiden, claiming or starter which have never won two races, attracted 10 horses.
“We’re happy with Saturday’s card,” said Christian Teja, Suffolk’s vice president of public relations and marketing. “We could have made another race or two but decided it was better to be cautious. The first part of the meet is always the most challenging and we anticipate we’ll be fine moving forward, especially as we start using the turf course.”
After a successful opening day on May 21 when about 11,000 people turned out on track, and then another day of racing on May 23 when attendance was not announced, the track called off what would have been the third day of the meet. That day will be made up on a date to be determined.
Suffolk has not announced a stakes schedule for its 76th season and at this time there are no plans to revive the storied Massachusetts Handicap, formerly a graded stakes race that has been the track’s signature event since it was first run in 1935. Past Mass ‘Cap winners include Seabiscuit, Whirlaway, Stymie, Riva Ridge, Skip Away, and Cigar.
Meanwhile, track executives continue to aggressively pursue the expansion of gaming in Massachusetts and continue to work on passage of legislation that would reduce the number of state-mandated live racing days from 100 to the 80 days agreed upon in a new contract with the New England Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.