Racing could cease at New Hampshire's Rockingham Park this year because a bill that would have allowed video lottery terminals at the Salem facility is dead.
In what is believed to be the first suspension in the country for a positive test for the drug benzylpiperazine, New England trainer Tammi Piermarini was suspended Tuesday until Jan. 10, 2002. The Suffolk Downs board of stewards also fined her $500 and took away first-place purse money won by Dixie Draw Oct. 6 at the Masschusetts track.
Hap retained his unblemished record for the current year, drawing off to win the $200,000 New Hampshire Sweepstakes Handicap (gr. IIIT) by seven lengths on Saturday at Rockingham Park.
Following four hours of intense discussion early Sunday morning, Rockingham Park management and the New England Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association reached a two-year agreement on a contract.
The New England Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association was expected to withhold permission for Rockingham Park to send its live signal to other wagering facilities effective Wednesday. The move comes in response to an impasse in the group's negotiations with track management over simulcasting revenue splits.
Normally, the sounds of thunder cascading down the stretch of the two New England major thoroughbred tracks -- Suffolk Downs and Rockingham Park emanate from horses. Now, the thunderclaps are coming from New England horsemen, who say they need a bigger share of the simulcasting pie to survive.
A former leading owner at Rockingham Park has pled guilty to federal charges of embezzlement and tax evasion. Paul R. Blanchette will be sentenced in March and is expected to serve 57 months in prison on the federal charges, following a plea agreement reached since his arrest last April. He is also expected to change his plea to guilty on the state charges he is facing -- more than 100 counts of larceny -- when he returns to court this month. Blanchett is currently lodged in a Rhode Island federal prison.
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