Purse Considerations Shelve MassCap for One Year

An extension of its current meet to compensate for the loss of Thoroughbred racing at Rockingham Park led Suffolk Downs to cancel this year's $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap, its premier event.

The grade II race had been scheduled for June 14. Officials said the race is gone for this year only.

"It is in the track's best interest to do this," Suffolk chief operating officer Bob O'Malley said. "Similar to last year's situation with the Pimlico Special, we fully intend to bring it back next year."

The Maryland Jockey Club last year canceled the grade I Pimlico Special, another top event for older horses, because purse supplements fell through and money was needed for overnight races. The race is back on the calendar at Pimlico Race Course this spring.

Suffolk has applied for an extension of its current meet to Aug. 27 and must account for the additional purse money if the expanded schedule is approved by the Massachusetts Racing Commission. In addition, the share of the purse pool Suffolk received from the state fell short of what the track anticipated.

Rockingham in nearby New Hampshire traditionally raced in the summer after the Suffolk meet to complete the New England circuit. This year, however, the track will offer Standardbred racing in the spring and summer.

The MassCap, as it is called, was revived in 1995 after a five-year absence. Past winners include Seabiscuit, Whirlaway, Riva Ridge, Cigar, and Skip Away.

The $200,000 James B. Moseley Breeders' Cup Handicap, a six-furlong race historically run on the MassCap undercard, will become the featured event on the June 14 program.