The final race at Suffolk Downs had barely been etched into history in late June when a Quincy developer announced his intent to build a $300 million thoroughbred racetrack with slot machines on a site in Wareham near the Bourne Bridge. The proposal by the Notus Group had been anticipated by the NEHBPA, which has conveyed its support for the project as we will support any legitimate proposal that can restore fulltime live thoroughbred racing.
“We are seeing a spike in interest of investors and developers to build a thoroughbred racetrack in Massachusetts”, said Anthony Spadea, Jr., President of the NEHBPA, who also revealed that two other investors have taken a serious interest in purchasing enough land elsewhere in Massachusetts for a racetrack. Add to that the announcement the intention of Sterling Suffolk to take racing out to the old Great Barrington Fairgrounds to run short meets as early as next year on a 6-furlong surface.
“All of this is very fluid,” said Spadea. “But we are encouraged because there is now a very active public conversation about restoring thoroughbred racing. There were more than 20,000 people at Suffolk Downs for the final racing weekend and we think that validates that this is a popular sport that now needs a home in Massachusetts.”
Standardbred industry ramps up its campaign to obliterate future of thoroughbred racing
The standardbred racing industry wasted little time after the closing of Suffolk Downs to step up its campaign to obliterate the thoroughbred racing industry by trying to carve out an even bigger slice of the state funds that support purses for both breeds. The standardbreds asked the state’s racing commission to once again cut revenue that the thoroughbred industry receives through the Race Horse Development Fund (RHDF) by changing the current 60-40. The Horse Racing Commission rejected the standardbreds request for 100 percent of the RHDF funds and then approved a 65-35 split.
In 2018, the RHDF distributed a total of $15,443,061 to the organizations representing the two breeds of which over $9 million was paid to the standardbreds and just over $6 million was paid to the thoroughbred based on a 60/40 split. With nearly $1 million of those receipts to breeders and nearly $250,000 to support its Health and Welfare program that supports retired men and women who have spent the bulk of their career in horse r a cing. Any change in the split impacts how much and what the NEHBPA can provide our members and undermines our commitment to a breeding program.
NEHBPA Elects four new Directors to fill Board of Directors’ Vacancies
Four new members joined the New England Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association following their successful election. Robert Manning and Chris Trakas “‘Yere selected as Owner representatives while Leona McKanas and George Sacccardo join the NEHBPA as Trainer representatives. The new directors were announced at the September 7 th board meeting.
We will begin to post future board meeting dates on our websfte and welcome you to attend. Please call Paul Umbrello or Shirley Dullea if you plan to attend so that we can accommodate all that wish to join us. If you ever have any questions or concerns the best way to find out is to make a request and speak to the board.
A little History
After Suffolk Downs announced it was closing in 2014 after it failed to secure a casino license, it seemed that live thoroughbred racing was dead in Massachusetts. Suffolk Downs’ owners were walking away. The state didn’t step up. Organizations claiming to have the best interest of thoroughbred owners and breeders at heart were proven impotent. That vilas when the NEHBPA stepped in and invested in the festival weekends that kept Suffolk open and racing over the last five years. The number of racing days were limited, but the effect of the festival weekends was to demonstrate the continuing popularity of live thoroughbred racing and to protect the Race Horse Development Fund from efforts to divert it. Maintaining the RHDF also protected our breeders to keep their program going and protect their farms and, finally: it also protected our member benefit programs. Simply put, there would be no Breeding or Health and Welfare programs available today but for the effort of the NEHBPA.
It’s your NEHBPA, with over 85 years of history and national accreditation, that diligently works and fights for its members and our beneficiaries for whom we protect the Health and Welfare programs. It must be known that the NEHBPA has worked diligently to find land and secure investors and why with so many hurdles as we’ve seen it doesn’t and can’t just happen overnight
Over the past five years, the NEHBPA has explored future track sites in nearly a dozen locations, like Spencer, Warren, Auburn and Douglas to name a few. But finding 150 plus acres of developable land and securing the support of the host community and contiguous communities is no easy task. We will continue to keep you up to date as we have more information to share
Thank you NEHBPA