JC / Railbird

Betting Elsewhere

Not only was this past Saturday one of the first big days of Kentucky Derby preps, it was the first that local bettors couldn’t wager on several popular tracks through Suffolk Downs due to the dispute with the NEHBPA over the 2011 meet. Unsurprisingly, many opted to go elsewhere. “Not a lot of cars in the Suffolk Downs parking lot. Definite change from Saturday afternoons before the mess,” tweeted Jen Montfort, a CANTER New England volunteer.

A few of the missing cars were surely parked at Rockingham, less than 40 miles away in New Hampshire. Tom Gagney in the mutuels department didn’t have attendance numbers, but he did say that the former harness track turned simulcasting hall enjoyed a jump of approximately 30% in handle over the previous Saturday. “It went from $250,000 to $320,000,” said Gagney.

At Suffolk Downs, track officials indicated simulcasting handle on Saturday and Sunday was down about 50% from the equivalent weekend a year ago.

Officials at nearby Plainridge and Raynham simulcasting parlors, as well as Twin River Casino in Rhode Island, were unable or unavailable to comment.

At least one bettor went to Mohegan Sun* in Connecticut, where he reported being given a $50 voucher and a rebate on his wagers. “[T]he money that is leaving the state of Massachusetts during the days leading up to Triple Crown is huge,” warned Robert Antonelli in a post on Facebook.

The money leaving is also lost to the Suffolk purse account. So long as the dispute drags on, the less there will be this summer to fund purses, which are a point of contention along with days and the simulcasting split.

There’s little to suggest the impasse will end soon. The NEHBPA presented a counter-proposal to Suffolk’s January 26 offer last Thursday. The same day, Suffolk threatened to sue the group, NEHBPA lawyer Frank Frisoli told the Blood-Horse. As of early this afternoon, the horsemen had not received a response to their offer. “We’re still evaluating the proposal,” said Frisoli, is the last the group heard from track management, and that was on Friday.

Meanwhile, Suffolk has cut Wednesday from its simulcasting schedule because of revenue lost since the start of the dispute, when the NEHBPA pulled its permission for the NYRA feed. Horsemen’s groups in Florida, Maryland, Ohio, and Oregon later pulled feeds in solidarity, blocking six tracks. Suffolk is now open for simulcasting only Thursday to Monday.

8:45 PM Addendum: More from Lynne Snierson on the simulcasting cut: “A racetrack source said that staffing has also been cut back.”

*2/15/11 Update: The Mohegan Sun racebook did see a small spike in total handle on Saturday, said a casino spokeswoman, however, “[the racebook] can’t directly correlate the slight increase to that of the Suffolk Downs simulcast block in Massachusetts.”


it’s a shame. the owner of suffolk is a super guy and a super racing fan. if he goes,live racing will be finnished in boston, forever! how much money can you exoect this guy to keep on losing?
a city the size of boston should be able to easily support an a class operation.
smarten up all you shit disturbers and do a reality check!

Posted by palaceplace on February 14, 2011 @ 8:09 pm

It’s been 5 days since the NEHBPA offered a counter proposel. What is taking the track so long in trying to negotiate? You would think they would want to try to resolve this. One has to wonder just what their priorities are? All I hear is a lot of whining about who’s to blame…. is this any way to address the problem?
Thanks Jessica, for keeping up posted.

Posted by Susan on February 15, 2011 @ 8:07 am

[…] Regarding the blocked signals, which have sent local bettors to nearby simulcasting parlors with all tracks available, costing the track simulcasting revenue (and horsemen the portion that would have gone to purses), […]

Posted by Jessica Chapel / Railbird v2 - Suffolk Responds on February 15, 2011 @ 3:10 pm

Suffolk has been waiting for slots and casinos. How about improving the product? The place is gross and the racing is terrible. You brag that you “overpay” purses but have the worst purses in the country.

Posted by Mike Guller on February 19, 2011 @ 10:23 am