Friday, June 19, 2009

Suffolk Downs Cancels MassCap

It was reported in the Blood Horse today that Suffolk Downs has cancelled the Massachusetts Handicap.

“It's a difficult decision because it means so much to the loyal racing fans of New England and to everyone at the track, but our partnership does not think we can responsibly incur the expense of the MassCap when we are fighting to save jobs and maintain current purse levels for the horsemen who are here every day," said Richard Fields, Suffolk Downs’ principal shareholder.

It's hard to argue with that. We here in Minnesota are fortunate that we only had to reduce our dates by a few weeks. Most of the stakes were saved including the $100,000 Lady Canterbury Stakes and purse levels have remained consistent from last year and so far through the meet. Prestige is nice, but you need to take care of your bread and butter and Suffolk is trying to take care of their own.

The MassCap has had a glorious and tortured history. In particular, the last decade has not been particularly kind to the MassCap with cancellations in 2003, '05 and '06 in addition to shut downs while the track was closed and then the first few years of new ownership from 1990 to 1994. Winners of the MassCap read like a who's who of racing legends: Seabiscuit, Whirlaway, Stymie, Riva Ridge, Waquoit ( a personal favorite of mine), Macho Uno, Brass Hat and last year Commentator. Two time winners include Cigar, Skip Away, Smart, First Fiddle and Air Pilot.

Just last year the race was a "Win and You're In" race for the Breeder's Cup and this year it would have achieved Graded status (Gr. III) for the first time since 2004 when it was Grade II. I may have come of age with Maryland racing, but I grew up with Suffolk. Fields and his team are trying really hard to make it work back home. I wish them all the best and all the luck in the world.

1 comment:

SaratogaSpa said...

Real Sad to see this off the schedule. You would think with it being Graded this year they would have found a way for it too work