EAST BOSTON — Live racing returns to Suffolk Downs this summer with three 2-day racing festivals, the first of which coincides with the running of the Belmont Stakes — the third leg of the Triple Crown.
The track also announced Wednesday a purse increase of 15 percent on overnight purses.
The three festival weekends are scheduled to be held June 9-10, July 7-8 and Aug. 4-5.
“We are looking forward to another season of racing and we are glad to be able to continue to reward the horsemen and women who have supported our festival weekends, especially those who stabled here in the past,” said Chip Tuttle, the Chief Operating Officer at Suffolk Downs. “We understand that asking people to ship in for each weekend requires that we ensure some return on their investment and we expect that we’ll be over $500,000 per day in purses with this increase. We appreciate the cooperation of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in making these weekends a success.”
With the purse increase for 2018, $5,000 claiming races will now carry a purse of $30,000, maiden special weight races will offer a purse of $47,500 and allowance/optional claiming races will be listed at $52,500, pending approval by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
The track is also scheduled to host a stakes race both weekends in July and August and those black-type events will have a purse of $100,000.
Over the course of each weekend, there will be stakes races restricted to either horses foaled in Massachusetts or sired by a Massachusetts-based stallion. Each offers a purse of $50,000 and is a showcase for the Massachusetts Thoroughbred breeding industry.
Last year, the track conducted four weekends of live racing with an average daily purse of $493,095, including incentives.
The track offered lucrative starter incentives for trainers at $400 per horse and owners were rewarded with $500 for horses finishing first through fifth (on top of purse money) while the owners of horses finishing sixth through last received a bonus of $1,500. This incentive program will continue in 2018.
In addition to live racing, the track will be hosting a food truck festival each weekend featuring food trucks from a variety of local vendors, craft beer, live music and family fun activities for the whole family.
Built by 3,000 workers in just 62 days when Massachusetts authorized pari-mutuel wagering in 1935, the historic track has been a showcase for some of the most famous names in Thoroughbred racing history, including Seabiscuit, Whirlaway, John Henry, Cigar and Skip Away.