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Higher Purses, Twlight Racing at Suffolk

Suffolk Downs plans to conduct twilight racing, and will increase purses.

Suffolk Downs will conduct Friday twilight racing in the months of June, July, and August, the track announced as it introduced its complete racing schedule and several other initiatives for the 2008 live racing season, which begins May 3.

For the month of May, live racing will be held every Wednesday and Saturday, as well as Memorial Day.  Usual first post time is 12:45 p.m. Post time on opening day is 12:55 p.m. Beginning June 6 and continuing through the end of August, the track will operate on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule, with first post time on Friday set for 3 p.m.  First post time July 4 will be 12:45 p.m.

Beginning Labor Day, Sept.1, the track will employ a Monday-Wednesday-Friday-Saturday schedule until the conclusion of the meet Nov. 8. First post time will be 12:45 p.m. daily.

“We have designed the 2008 schedule to drive more people to live racing,” said Suffolk Downs chief operating officer Chip Tuttle. “The results from last year’s shift in schedule, which included the addition of Sunday racing, were promising, and we are hopeful the public will react similarly to twilight Fridays.”

Under new ownership in 2007, average daily attendance for the live racing meet was up 22%, while average daily handle on track for the live meet rose 14%.

Suffolk Downs will open the season with a 5% increase in purses, the track’s second purse increase in as many years. In 2007, total purses paid increased 12% from the previous year.

The $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap headlines an expanded schedule of nine open stakes. The MassCap is a qualifying race in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In Classic Division.” The winner of the race will automatically qualify for the $5-million Breeders’ Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) Oct. 25. The 66th MassCap will take place Sept. 20.

Purses for all maiden, claiming, and allowance races were raised $300, bringing the purses for $5,000 maiden claiming races and conditional $4,000 and $5,000 claimers up to $7,300. Maiden special weight races and top-level claiming races will carry purses of $17,300. Allowance purses will range from $11,800 at the starter level to $18,400 for first level allowances and $23,400 for top money allowances.