Thoroughbred racing will return to Suffolk Downs for three two-day racing festivals, officials at the Massachusetts track said May 5.
The festivals will be held July 9-10, Aug. 6-7, and Sept. 3-4. Suffolk Downs has an agreement with the New England Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association to continue live racing in 2017, with an option to race in 2018.
"We are very appreciative of the support we received from local horseman and the local horse racing fans," Suffolk Downs chief operating officer Chip Tuttle said. "We are looking forward to building on that momentum this year and we are happy we are able to help preserve racing here, while we continue to explore our options for developing the property."
Last year Suffolk Downs offered three days of live racing, each with total purses of up to $500,000. Officials said that in 2016, purses will average $450,000-$500,000 each weekend.
The Brockton Fairgrounds was awarded 30 days—two agricultural fair permits each allow 15 days of racing—by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Brockton hasn't set its dates yet, but it has a contract with another horsemen's group called the Massachusetts Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.
The MGC must approve purse levels for both tracks because most of the prize money will come from gaming revenue deposited into the Race Horse Development Fund.
In 2015 Suffolk Downs reduced pari-mutuel takeout to 15% across the board. It plans to ask the MGC to approve a similar reduction in takeout for 2016.