JC / Railbird

The Other Side

Yesterday’s post may have been intemperate. Via Twitter, I heard from a New England horseman that the dispute with Suffolk Downs is one of fairness. “[W]e … just want what every other racing jurisdiction gets, a 50/50 split on simo revenues, not 75/25 split for suf.” For another, who prefers anonymity, it’s about protecting the state-mandated days the horsemen have now and the Massachusetts breeding program, which registered two foals in 2010. “If the Downs runs less days this year, it won’t run more next year,” he said. “We’ll never see those days again.” Underlying the fight over purses and dates is also the memory of purse reductions last August following the failure of expanded gaming legislation, cuts that left many on the backstretch feeling demoralized.

That the horsemen have legitimate concerns isn’t in question. They’re fighting for their livelihoods, and they’re in a desperate spot. And, of course, there’s the possibility of slots. Everyone wants to hang on, in case …

And yet, Lynne Snierson’s Blood-Horse report on Suffolk’s “militant” horsemen was a stunning read. The NEHBPA’s stance belies broader trends in racing; there are reasons contraction is a hot topic across the industry. The tactic was tried at Rockingham; there is no thoroughbred racing at Rockingham anymore. Suffolk, legislatively freed to run shorter meets, may not run 100-plus day meets again, but horses won’t race at all in East Boston if the track is closed, and very few outside Massachusetts would notice. “If [horsemen] continue to thumb their noses at Suffolk Downs in hopes for a currently non-existent alterative venue in Massachusetts in which to conduct thoroughbred racing,” writes Foolish Pleasure, “do they seriously believe anyone outside of their little circle will care when the lights go out for good there?” A Paulick Report commenter certainly doesn’t: “Good luck running those horses anywhere else.”


We were told in the Snierson article that the one of the main issues is to “protect the Massachusetts breeding industry”. Where were they before 2009 when the registered foals started diminishing.

With two registered foals, there is no Mass-bred program to speak of. That said, there are better purses and nicer tracks with management and fans who care — just down the NE Thruway.

Bob Barker says … c’mon down !

Posted by The_Knight_Sky on February 3, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

Suffolk horsemen have endured an ongoing struggle to survive for so long. They have hoped for years that slots would save the game in Massachusetts. And while it may be a “little circle”, that little circle is made up of many caring and good people, who have not wanted to give up what they love doing. Many of those same people don’t have the stock to go elsewhere. My guess is they have had enough. Last year the meet started and purses were reduced as the meet progressed. That was kind of sneaky, and what’s to say that won’t happen again? The breeding program has suffered because who wants to breed when the future is always in question? Unfortunately they seem to really be at a crossroads this season.

Posted by Susan on February 3, 2011 @ 2:56 pm