10/03/2016 11:10AM

Suffolk seeks six dates in 2017


Suffolk Downs in East Boston, Mass., has asked the state’s racing commission for approval to hold six live racing dates in 2017, along the same lines of the meet the track held this year.

In a letter submitted to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Friday, Suffolk asked for approval to hold live racing cards on three weekends: July 8-9, Aug. 5-6, and Sept. 2-3. The letter, signed by Suffolk’s chief operating officer, Chip Tuttle, also stated that the track may ask for additional dates next year “subject to our ability to fund the additional purses and live racing expenses” through an outlay from the state’s Race Horse Development Fund, which receives revenue from casinos in the state.

In an interview, Tuttle said that Suffolk would be seeking funds to cover the expenses of keeping the stable area open during the dates surrounding the additional live race dates. The track could seek to request as many as six more live racing dates, Tuttle said.

Although Suffolk nominally closed in 2014 after the track was passed over for a casino license, the track has held abbreviated race meetings in the past two years, with race dates spaced approximately a month apart. Purses for the races have largely been provided by grants from the Race Horse Development Fund, which is controlled by the commission.

Tuttle said the race dates in the past two years have generated enough revenue for the track to “break even” on operating costs, but Suffolk continues to explore development options for the track.

Officials of the state’s horsemen’s group continue to pursue the construction of an equine facility to replace Suffolk, but the plans would be contingent on assistance from the state.