02/05/2007 1:00AM

Deal set for stake in Suffolk to be sold


Richard Fields, the casino developer, former associate of Donald Trump, and partner in a bid to take over the New York Racing Association's franchise, has reached a deal with the partnership that owns Suffolk Downs in East Boston to purchase a stake in the track, a spokesman for the track confirmed.

The spokesman, Chip Tuttle, would not disclose details of the agreement, which will not close until after the Massachusetts Racing Commission approves a change to the ownership structure of the track. Suffolk filed a request for the approval with the commission last week.

Fields, the owner of Coastal Development, LLC, has developed two casinos in Florida on Native American tribal lands. He is also a major partner in Excelsior Racing Associates, a partnership headed by New York Yankees partner Steve Swindal that is lobbying to take over the franchise to run Aqueduct, Belmont, Saratoga, and a casino at Aqueduct.

Suffolk is owned by a partnership that includes John Hall; Vornado Realty Trust; relatives of the track's late chairman, James B. Moseley; and another partnership headed by Joe O'Donnell, the owner of the Boston Culinary Group. A person with knowledge of the agreement said that Fields will purchase the stake held by the Moseley family and will not have a majority interest in the track.

The agreement to purchase the stake is not contingent on additional gambling being legalized at Suffolk Downs, the person said. Suffolk has been lobbying for slot machines unsuccessfully for several years, in part because of opposition from Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican who has announced his intention to seek his party's nomination for president in 2008.

Fields, who is from New York, has raised money for Democratic politicians in the past, and last year heavily supported New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in his successful gubernatorial campaign.

Though Tuttle would not comment on specifics of the deal, he said that Fields was expected to "reinvigorate" Suffolk Downs.

Suffolk Downs is scheduled to run 102 live racing days in 2007, from May 5 until Nov. 10. The track is open year-round for simulcasting.