Horse Racing

Group Eyes Live Racing in Massachusetts

Plans to restore live Thoroughbred races in New England early next year are well underway and are coming into focus.

An official with the New England branch of the Horsemen’s Protection & Benevolence Association confirmed to Bloodhorse on September 11 that the Commonwealth Horse and Agriculture Center, a group led by the former Suffolk Downs owner Richard Fields, is in the process of buying a 360-acre property in Massachusetts and will apply to the Massachusetts Game Commission (MGC) for a limited one-meeting operating license in 2023. The application deadline is September 30.

Once the sale is made, Great Meadow Ranch in the central Massachusetts town of Hardwick will be the site of the proposed racecourse and equestrian center, including a retirement home for horses.

A statement from the team read: “Our proposal was developed by horse and agriculture enthusiasts. The next chapter of Great Meadowbrook Ranch will continue its legacy, providing a place for horses. breed, train, retire and race as well as create exciting agricultural opportunities for the community. All while preserving this farm is greatly appreciated by everyone.”

Plans at this stage call for just one lawn and one storefront meeting perhaps lasting six days, possibly in the fall of 2023. Future meetings could be extended. .

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The resurgence of live racing took a big hit in late July when the Massachusetts legislature passed a bill allowing sports betting and the governor signed it into law. Under the provisions of the bill, any MGC-licensed racetrack or simulator is entitled to issue a sports betting license. Sports betting revenue is expected to be a boon for licensees.

Currently, MGC is in the preliminary process of defining a regulatory system for sports betting and has yet to hire a director to oversee its implementation and operation. Live racing and sports betting licenses are separate entities.

The Town of Hardwick’s approval is required for the track plan to work. At least four other proposed racetrack developments in locations across the state failed when local townspeople voted against them.

However, those proposals were made before sports betting was legalized in the state and now have a component for the host city to share a portion of the revenue generated.

Town Administrator Nicole Parker said the citizens of Hardwick will learn more about the proposal for their community from Fields and other Commonwealth Equine Center principals at the Planning Board meeting on September 13. which she and the members of the Selection Committee will attend.

There have been no Thoroughbred races in person in Massachusetts or New England since June 30, 2019, when the NEHBPA held the final meeting of its eight-day Racing Festival at Suffolk Downs, which was sold to a single home. real estate development in 2017.

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