The uncertainty of the casino licensing process this summer has caused Suffolk Downs to scratch four live racing days this month, officials said.
The track requested from the Mass Gaming Commission (MGC), Racing Division, during last Friday’s meeting the ability to eliminate live racing on June 3, June 10, June 17 and June 24 – all Tuesdays – according to a document filed with the MGC.
They were approved to do so, and did not hold live racing this past Tuesday.
Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle said the casino process has impacted the schedule, saying the horse population doesn’t currently support the four-day racing schedule.
“The uncertainty around a licensing decision for a gaming facility has impacted our racing operation this year,” he said on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, the current horse population does not support a schedule of four days a week. As an example, we were only able to fill seven races on tomorrow’s (Wednesday, June 4’s) card and we don’t ever want to be in a position where we put the health and safety of the horses and riders at risk. We are working with the racing division of the MGC and the horsemen to run as many days this year as practical. Our current agreement with the HBPA is to run until September 1st.”
The HBPA is the Horsemen’s Benevolent Protection Association, a group of owners and breeders.
The MGC did issue one caveat – that the days be made up so as to meet the minimum standards for simulcasting.
“These cancellations are approved with the specific condition that they be rescheduled later in the racing season as the horse supply and racing conditions permit,” read the letter from Director of Racing Jennifer Durenberger. “As you know, [state law] requires an association to conduct 100 days of live racing and 900 races in order to conduct simulcast wagering.”