Live Thoroughbred racing will return to Suffolk Downs this summer with three two-day racing festivals. The first weekend of live racing will be held July 8-9th and will continue August 5-6th and September 2-3rd.
Suffolk Downs will offer purses of approximately $500,000 per day for the six days of racing and both open stakes and Mass-bred stakes. The featured race on Saturday, July 8th is the $75,000 Jill Jellison Memorial Stakes for fillies and mares at five furlongs on the turf. Similar to the last two years, the racing festivals will again include food trucks, craft beer, live music and family fun activities.
In addition to live racing, the track is also planning several promotional events including a National Horseplayers Championship qualifying tournament on Sunday, August 6 which will offer two guaranteed seats to the National Horseplayers Championship in Las Vegas in February. In September, fans will have the opportunity to purchase a commemorative program and Suffolk Downs cap with the proceeds to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
The festival format has proven popular with local racing fans. Suffolk Downs averaged crowds of 7,000 per day for the 2016 festivals and Suffolk Downs was ranked second among tracks in the 2016 rankings of the Horseplayers Association of North America.
“We look forward to welcoming back fans of live racing and the people who have supported our racing programs for the last several years,” said Suffolk Downs COO, Chip Tuttle. “With purse levels near $500,000 per day and participation bonuses for horsemen to cover their shipping costs, we anticipate strong programs of competitive races for the upcoming festivals.”
In 2015, the track held three single live racing and food truck festival days and last year, the boutique meet expanded to six days to help support the New England HBPA and the Massachusetts Thoroughbred Breeders as both organizations are seeking venues at which to compete for local purse money being generated by expanded gaming in the state.
Entries for both days of racing in July will be drawn on Tuesday, July 4th. The barn area will open for horsemen to arrive on Thursday, July 6th and the track will be open for training on Saturday, July 8th.
The Suffolk Downs property was sold earlier this year to the McClellan Highway Development Company. Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, the operating company for Suffolk Downs, has leased back the premises required for racing and simulcasting for 2017 and 2018.