04/12/2003 12:00AM

Suffolk summer dates approved

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EAST BOSTON, MASS. - Suffolk Downs will race through the summer for the first time in 12 years after Massachusetts lawmakers gave the go ahead for the track to assume the racing dates abandoned this year by Rocking-

ham Park.

Up until Suffolk was forced to close for economic reasons in 1989, the summer was the track's traditional season. When new management reopened the track in 1992, a circuit agreement with Rockingham shifted the 150 yearly dates to the winter, spring, and fall. With the Rock running a harness meeting this year, Suffolk will push through to Aug. 27 instead.

"We're excited about the return of summer racing after a lengthy absence," said Bob O'Malley, chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs. "We're hopeful that it will give us a boost in attendance."

Live racing will continue on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday schedule. Post times for Mondays and Tuesdays will move to 3 p.m. Eastern beginning June 16. Wednesday and Saturday will maintain a 12:45 p.m. start.

The extended season also allows the track to shift the $200,000 James B. Moseley Breeders' Cup to June 21 - one week later than it had been scheduled as a part of the undercard for the now-canceled Massachusetts Handicap.