Suffolk Downs will not conduct the Massachusetts Handicap in 2009 due to current economic conditions, track officials announced June 19.
“It's a difficult decision because it means so much to the loyal racing fans of New England and to everyone at the track, but our partnership does not think we can responsibly incur the expense of the MassCap when we are fighting to save jobs and maintain current purse levels for the horsemen who are here every day," said Richard Fields, Suffolk Downs’ principal shareholder.
“Like so many businesses and families in the Boston area and throughout the country that are tightening their belts to weather the current economic storm, we have also been forced to make some difficult choices. We hope this is a temporary setback and that the local fans will continue to support our efforts to enhance racing in Massachusetts.”
The MassCap was run every year from the track's inaugural season in 1935 until it closed in 1989. After the track re-opened in 1992, the MassCap did not return until the 1995 season. It was suspended in 2003, 2005 and 2006.
“We are disappointed that there will be no MassCap this year, but Suffolk Downs’ ownership raised purse levels in 2007 and has been working hard to maintain them and to support our horsemen and local farms despite tough economic conditions,” said Al Balestra, president of the New England Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.
Suffolk's premier race, the Massachusetts Handicap had been scheduled for late September. Last year the event, which was won by Commentator, carried a $500,000 purse.