09/18/2014 5:31PM

Brockton Fairgrounds to apply for Massachusetts racing dates


As Suffolk Downs management was forced to notify employees and horsemen Wednesday that the track’s closure is imminent as a consequence of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s Tuesday decision to award the Boston casino license to Wynn Resorts, another track owner stepped forward with a plan to keep Thoroughbred racing alive in the state.

“We reached out to the [New England] HBPA yesterday,” said Christopher Carney, whose family owns the Brockton Fairgrounds and Raynham Park, formerly a greyhound track. “They are in the middle of elections and can’t enter into discussions until after the results are final. We reached out to them because we have aspirations.”

Carney and his 86-year-old father, George, and partner Greenwood Racing, the owner of Parx Racing, had applied for the single slots parlor license in Massachusetts. But they and another proposal from the Cordish Cos. lost out in February to Penn National Gaming Inc.’s plan to build what will be the new $225 million Plainridge Park Casino at the state’s only harness racing track.

In their application, the Carney family offered to host live Standardbred racing at the fairgrounds in the event that Penn National did not secure the license. Now they are extending the welcome to Thoroughbred horsemen.

“We’re going to file a racing dates application on Oct. 1 for one day for both Middleboro Agricultural [fair] and Brockton Agricultural,” said Carney. “We’ve got our applications on our desk, and we’re filling them out now.”

Brockton was part of the now-defunct Massachusetts Fair circuit and last hosted Thoroughbred racing in 2000.

“We spent better than $4 million on the revitalization of the Brockton Fairgrounds back in 2000, and we’d like to have the chance to put our interests back in play,” Carney said. “We think it’s a great location, and the purses would far exceed anything we’d be able to generate through simulcasting. If we ran a 60-day meet in Brockton, the purse structure would be for the local people and would be better for them than it would be at Suffolk.”

Carney reasoned that since the dirt track is six furlongs and there is no turf course, out-of-town outfits would not ship in to compete against locals, as they have done at Suffolk Downs.

The initial plan calls for a 60-day meet in 2015. Carney said that if the purses grow through the Thoroughbred horsemen’s 75 percent share of future monies to be allocated through the state’s new Race Horse Development Fund, which will be stocked by a percentage of casino and slots-parlor license fees and future profits, they will add dates.

“We have a viable plan because we already own the location. We have already spent the money for the barns, and the infrastructure and all is intact. It might not be big, glitzy, and glamorous, but it worked for us in 2000,” said Carney. “We don’t need thousands of horses, which aren’t even around anymore. We only need hundreds of horses. It would be a great opportunity for the horsemen and for us. I wanted to meet with the HBPA as early this week.”

george More than 1 year ago
Bring back dog racing!!!!!!!!!,,
Frankie Morgan More than 1 year ago
Okay I vote no
Stephanie Vangel Lambert More than 1 year ago
jon g More than 1 year ago
Not a bad idea as long as the horseman don't get greedy (yeah right ! ) and they accept a a 60 day meet. Anything more than that and it will fail
Frankie Morgan More than 1 year ago
Not ture
Jay Stone More than 1 year ago
If they were willing to lay out their own money for purses until the casino money kicked in the idea would be a viable alternative to no racing. Their won't be a casino in Everett for at least 4 years so it would be costly but if it ever opens the casino would provide a lot of purse money. It wouldn't be much worse than what has transpired at Suffolk recently and could be the bridge the horsemen need to get to the casino funds. Brockton is a nice place to live and the expenses are less than living in Boston area.
Ned Daly More than 1 year ago
No money for racing will come from casino revenues. The ONLY money dedicated to the racing industry is from the single slots parlor. This is already under construction. The time lag would be considerably less than one might think. If this proposal looks realistic (and the Gaming Commission in its role as the Mass. Racing Commission ought to come clean before the November vote on gaming in general) it might change my mind about voting Yes on 3.