06/19/2009 12:00AM

Massachusetts Handicap canceled again

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For the fourth time in the past seven years, Suffolk Downs has canceled the Massachusetts Handicap, the track's most prestigious race, citing economic conditions.

Track officials had not yet set a date for the race, but it was expected to be scheduled for the fall so that horsemen could use it as a prep for the Breeders' Cup. Last year, Breeders' Cup had also made the race one of its Win and You're In preps that guaranteed the winner a spot in the Breeders' Cup Classic. The race was a Grade 3 with a $500,000 purse last year.

Chip Tuttle, the chief operating officer of Suffolk, said that the track consulted with its horsemen before deciding to cancel the race. Even with the cancellation, Suffolk may cut overnight purses later this year, Tuttle said.

"We may still have to trim purses, but we're going to try to hold the line," Tuttle said.

In a release, Richard Fields, the head of a partnership that purchased the track in 2007, said that he hoped the cancellation is "a temporary setback."