by Lynne Snierson
Suffolk Downs, which had been racing only three days per week during the current meet, will now card live racing four days per week. The schedule change is a result of passage of a bill in the Massachusetts legislature July 21 to reduce the number of live racing days mandated by state law in order to simulcast from 100 to 80 days.
Track officials maintained that running 20 fewer dates in 2011 would result in a higher quality of racing with an average daily purse distribution of about $103,000. Until both the House and Senate took action, Suffolk had only scheduled about 70 days of racing. Even though the bill is sitting on the governor's desk awaiting signature, management is confident in adding days to the live racing schedule.
Beginning Aug. 1, live racing will be conducted Monday through Wednesday and Saturday and first post time remains at 12:45 p.m.
The Massachusetts State Racing Commission approved the addition of Tuesdays to the live racing schedule. The number of Tuesdays will be determined by the final status of the legislation on the total number of required racing days for the year. The legislation also extends the track's ability to accept simulcast wagers through Jan. 31, 2012.
Meanwhile, the possibility of expanded gambling in the state remains on hold until September. The governor, speaker of the house, and senate president have announced that they plan to take up the issue and begin debate after Labor Day.
In 2010, the bill failed in the summer legislative session when those three key players could not reach agreement on the number of destination resort casinos and slots facilities at racetracks to be allowed. They also were at odds on the process for awarding the gaming licenses.