Suffolk Downs has been on the forefront of equine safety, welfare and aftercare for over a decade and in that time, we have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to putting our equine athletes first both during their racing careers and after they have retired.
We take our responsibility for the safety of our human and equine athletes very seriously and, thanks to a partnership with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and an equal commitment from our horsemen and women, we have worked hard to continue to improve our safety, welfare and aftercare standards.
In 2008, we set an industry precedent by becoming the first racetrack in the country to implement a strict anti-slaughter policy for owners and trainers with horses stabled here. Since then, virtually every major racetrack in the country has adopted a similar policy. We have also continued to strive to maintain open dialogues with the equine rescue community and have stepped up to intervene on numerous occasions when a former Suffolk Downs horse has needed a helping hand.
In 2009, through the support of the Fields Family Foundation, Suffolk Downs partnered with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) to establish a home for retired racehorses at the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Farm in Plymouth, Massachusetts. There, inmates from the Correctional Facility are able to care for the horses as part of its vocational program. This year, we had the opportunity to team up with the MSPCA at Nevins Farm to offer an older Suffolk Downs retiree a permanent home at the Sheriff’s Farm. In addition to our work with the TRF, we have strongly supported the efforts of CANTER New England each year as they help facilitate many of our racehorses moving on to second careers as show horses and pleasure mounts.
Thanks to the proactive work of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and its Racing Division, Massachusetts is at the forefront of integrity, safety and welfare policies. For example, in 2013, Massachusetts became one of only four states in the country to adopt national model rules as recommended by the ARCI and The Jockey Club and the following year, those rules were fully implemented along with additional testing protocols to ensure both safety and the integrity of the competition here.
We are also proud that we have maintained accreditation through the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) from its Safety and Integrity Alliance since we were originally accredited in 2011. We have been commended by the NTRA for our efforts in Injury Reporting and Prevention, Safety Equipment and a Safer Racing Environment; Medication and Testing; Health and Safety of Riders; Aftercare of Retired Racehorses; and Wagering Security.
We work hard to maintain a safe and fair track surface and we are especially proud of our pre-race veterinary inspection program in conjunction with the MGC and our continued participation in the Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database program. In addition, we have a state of the art equine ambulance trackside at all times
The respect for our equine athletes is something that extends beyond the racetrack and has become ingrained in the culture at Suffolk Downs. Suffolk Downs principal owner Richard Fields retired several former Suffolk Downs runners to his ranch in Wyoming. Both Chip Tuttle, the track’s Chief Operating Officer, and Director of Communications Jessica Paquette have adopted former Suffolk Downs racehorses and have successfully transitioned them to second careers.