President Al Balestra and the NEHBPA Board of Directors met on March 2 with Suffolk Downs’ officials Richard Fields and Chip Tuttle to discuss a schedule for the Suffolk Downs 2010 race Meet and to discuss common ground issues anticipating filing of legislation for expanded gaming in Massachusetts.
Suffolk Downs ownership and management expressed an extremely positive outlook for the future of Thoroughbred racing at Suffolk Downs and their commitment to enhancing the quality of the Thoroughbred racing and breeding product. They announced their plans to run a complete race meet of 101 days (900 races) in 2010, even if gaming legislation is not approved in Massachusetts. In addition, they plan to increase purses to $10M (up from $8.9M in 2009), with the potential of another purse increase during the 2010 meet, if gaming legislation progresses.
Due to development planning and other issues related to the main plant, Suffolk Downs will be asking the Massachusetts State Racing Commission to delay the opening of live racing by four weeks. As a result, key planning dates for horsemen are:
- April 15 – Backstretch open to accommodate horses
- May 01 – Racing surface available for training
- May 29 – Opening Day for Racing
- November 20 - Last scheduled race day
- The Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies is expected to file the much anticipated expanded gaming bill by March 26th.
- If the proposal for expanded gaming is enacted, Suffolk Downs plans to:
o Immediately submit an application for an expanded gaming license
o Expedite renovations and new construction to accommodate gaming facilities
o Embrace language in the new gaming law that requires (as a condition of the gaming license) the continuation of Thoroughbred racing at Suffolk Downs
o Substantially enhance both the dirt and turf racing surfaces
o Substantially enhance the backstretch barns and residential facilities