Horse track warns 2014 racing season could be last

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 23, 2014 at 10:14 am •  Published: April 23, 2014

BOSTON (AP) — Suffolk Downs, New England's only thoroughbred facility, warned on Wednesday that the 2014 racing season would likely be the last one at the 79-year-old track unless Mohegan Sun is awarded the sole eastern Massachusetts resort casino license.

Suffolk Downs has promised to continue racing for at least the next 15 years if the Massachusetts Gaming Commission gives the license to Connecticut-based Mohegan Sun, which has proposed a $1.3 billion casino on land Suffolk Downs owns in Revere. But track officials have cited the difficulty of sustaining racing without income and crossover business generated by a gambling resort.

Wynn Resorts has a competing $1.6 billion casino proposal for a site along the Mystic River in Everett.

The racing season will begin on May 3, the same day as the running of the Kentucky Derby, allowing customers to wager on a simulcast of the famed race, Suffolk Downs announced.

"The start of the live race meet here always brings with it a sense of optimism and renewal, although this year that is tempered with concern for our workforce and the future here," said Chip Tuttle, the track's chief operating officer, in a statement.

The track said it has an agreement with a group representing New England horsemen to maintain racing at least through Sept. 1, but additional racing days this year or in the future would likely hinge on the licensing decision expected to be made later this year by the gambling commission.

The licensing process is clouded by Boston Mayor Martin Walsh's bid to have his city designated as a host community for the proposed casinos in Revere and Everett, a request that, if granted, would allow voters in the neighboring East Boston and Charlestown neighborhoods to vote on the proposals.