Monday, October 6, 2014

Suffolk Downs Turns Out the Lights

First, Hollywood Park now Suffolk Downs, another race track bites the dust. With the tracks also go the history, the memories, and of course the jobs.  It was 1935 and Suffolk, near Boston claimed the first concrete grandstand in the country. It drew legends — like Seabiscuit, who ran here in 1937, and the Beatles, who played here in 1966 — as well as horse trainers, clerks and gamblers who, over time, came to know this place better than their own home.

Only 9,100 people showed up for the wake, unlike the thirty some thousand who came when it was new.  Race tracks have fallen on hard times as casinos proliferate like convenience stores.  A group of horsemen are working to open the track next year but their battle is an uphill one, the economics just don't work anymore. 

The 325 employees will have to find new work in a different field or move to another track.  Exercise riders want to ride, they don't want to be in an office, on a truck or at a fast food restaurant.  It's sad to say that Thoroughbred racing in New England is likely over for good.  The lights will still shine in swanky Saratoga in near-by New York, but the glitter and glam of that hamlet in the middle of the state was meant more for the upper crust of racing, not the blue collar shirts from Boston. Rest in peace, Suffolk. You won't be last.


  1. I've been a horse racing fan almost my entire life, but recent changes to the sport, nuanced changes on the backside, have tarnished it for me.
    I don't know how it can be brought back, we need better breeding for longevity, we need horses who race past 2 or 3, and we need less drugs. We need these tracks to take a REAL stand against horses being shipped off to slaughter sales when they are done racing, especially when the horse is [literally] broken.
    I have no idea how you accomplished those things, AND get the audience it needs to financially support it back in the stands.


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