Live Card Combines Harness, Thoroughbred Races at Rockingham

Rockingham Park plans to present both live Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing on the same card during Labor Day weekend Sept. 5.

The track, in its 98th year of competition, will run eight or nine Standardbred races that Sunday, followed by three Thoroughbred races over the Rockingham turf course. Rockingham has been operating a live Standardbred meeting during the spring and summer.

"We're pleased to see the return of Thoroughbred racing at Rockingham Park," said Ed Callahan, the track's vice president and general manager. "Even though the turf racing that we're bringing back is in abbreviated form, this may be the beginning of Rockingham adding additional Thoroughbred dates in 2005. Nonetheless, the track remains committed to running the full 100-program harness meet from May through September in 2005."

Rockingham Park, which debuted in June of 1906, ran a Thoroughbred meet each year until last season.

When the track and the New England Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association were unable to come to terms on a new Thoroughbred racing contract at the end of 2002, Rockingham, which ran Standardbreds from 1958 to 1980, switched to harness racing exclusively for the 2003 meet.

Last season was the first harness meet at Rockingham since the track burned in 1980. When Rockingham re-opened in 1984, it was for Thoroughbreds only.

Suffolk Downs in Boston, which formerly shared a Thoroughbred racing circuit with Rockingham, will be dark on Sept. 5 so there will be no conflict with horses and riders.