04/01/2003 12:00AM

Mass Cap won't go in '03

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EAST BOSTON, Mass. - Suffolk Downs has placed its signature event, the Grade 2 Massachusetts Handicap, on a one-year hiatus.

The Mass Cap's $500,000 purse was deemed too expensive by Suffolk management now that it expects to cover daily purses for a racing season likely to be extended through the summer after Rockingham Park opted to run a harness meet this summer.

In addition, a state-funded purse supplements were below expectations, and the track had nearly a dozen weather-caused cancellations this winter.

"It is in the track's best interest to do this," said Bob O'Malley, Suffolk's CEO. "This is similar to last year's situation in Maryland with the Pimlico Special, because we fully intend on bringing back the race next year."

The Maryland Jockey Club left the Special, its top handicap, off its schedule in 2002, but brought it back this year.