04/21/2010 11:00PM

Suffolk to open meeting later

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Suffolk Downs will open its 2010 meet two weeks later than recent seasons to allow returning horsemen to make their way north for the summer.

Since taking over as the only Thoroughbred track in New England in 2004, Suffolk had opened on Kentucky Derby Day. It will wait two more weeks this year, starting on Preakness day, promising 101 days of racing for its 75th anniversary season.

"As more and more of the New England horsemen and horses winter in Florida, Delaware, and Pennsylvania where purses are enhanced due to expanded gaming, extending our opening for even a couple weeks makes it easier for us to get top-quality horses to return here," said Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs.

The Massachusetts House passed an expanded gambling bill last week by a veto-proof majority. The same government chamber voted against casino bills in recent years, but is now led by Robert DeLeo, a Democrat who represents the district where Suffolk Downs is located. His bill calls for up to 750 slots at the state's four racetracks and two larger resort casinos at yet-to-be named sites. The state Senate will hold public hearings on the bill later this spring.

"Based on the recent legislative action in Massachusetts, we look forward to our 75th anniversary season with a renewed sense of optimism for the future," Tuttle said.

Suffolk will race on Wednesdays and Saturdays in May through Memorial Day before adding Mondays and Tuesdays to a four-day week for the rest of the season through Nov. 13.