02/27/2015 4:41PM

Horsemen reach deal to lease Suffolk Downs

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Suffolk Downs and a local horsemen’s group have reached a deal allowing the group to lease the track for brief live race meets in 2015 and 2016, the two parties announced Friday.

The deal is contingent on approval by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and the passage of legislation allowing Suffolk Downs to offer year-round simulcasting through the end of 2016, according to a joint announcement between the owner of Suffolk and the New England Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. The boards of both groups approved the agreement Friday.

Under the deal, the NEHBPA will lease the track through the end of 2016. The announcement said that the horsemen have not yet determined how long a race meet might last in 2015 and the following year, but it also said that the number of live racing dates will not exceed 50.

The current law allowing Suffolk to accept bets on simulcasts sunsets March 31.

Horsemen at Suffolk have been seeking a deal on live racing since the track’s owners announced late last year that they intended to close the track after a partnership between Suffolk and Mohegan Sun was passed over for the lone casino license in the Boston area by the state’s gambling commission. A portion of the revenue from the state’s casinos will eventually flow into a fund providing subsidies for purses and breeder awards.

The announcement between the two groups said that the duration of the two meets will be contingent on whether horsemen can receive an advance on the subsidies, which are expected to total in the tens of millions of dollars annually once the state’s casinos are up and running.