There have been some signs that the horse racing in the US is going through a difficult time. It has been reported that gambling has dropped by close to $5 billion since the turn of the century.
Meanwhile, a drug test scandal involving the 2018 Triple Crown champion put a dent in the sport’s reputation. However, there are still some exciting plans in place to expand the number of big horse racing events carried out in the country.
What Is the Project?
The end of the line for the famous Suffolk Downs track has led to a number of proposals for alternative horse racing venues. This iconic spot had opened in 1935 but was sold in 2017 to make way for a shopping and housing development.
One of the projects that could replace Suffolk Downs in the hearts of racing fans comes from the Massachusetts Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (MTHA). Their plan is to construct a $60 million horse racing complex in Rowley.
The idea is that this new venue could play host to a minimum of 60 live racing events every year. Of course, the fear for potential investors is that the issues that put an end to Suffolk Downs could hinder the financial success of this new development too.
Bill Lagario is the MTHA President. He said that the problems encountered at Suffolk Down can be marked down to poor management rather than any major underlying issues in the industry.
He went on to point out that you don’t need to “go back too long ago to see 35,000 people at the Massachusetts Handicap.” In addition, anyone following their Breeders Cup picks will have seen a new two-day attendance record set at Monmouth Park in 2016.
The consortium behind this project believe that it will also benefit the local economy. This would be a helping hand for the local breeding industry in Massachusetts. Lagario commented that only 8 foals were born in the state in the previous year.
They aim to offer purses of between $225,000 and $240,000 for the races. This figure has been set with the idea that it allows everyone to make money from the events.
Other Horse Racing Projects in the State
This is one of three horse racing projects to be announced lately. Which of them finally goes ahead will depend upon the decisions of state legislators, as well as their ability to attract investors? In each case, they plan to access funds from the Racehorse Development Fund.
One of the other ideas involves a $300 million complex in Wareham, Massachusetts. This project comes from the Notos Group LLC. As well as a racetrack, they also plan to produce state of the art facilities such as a Horse Health Facility with a range of specialties.
Thomas P. O’Connell is the Founder of the Notos Group. He was quoted as saying that their team has a “track record of leadership in equine safety and welfare”. Those working on their plan include GH2 Equine Architects, Cha Consulting Inc., and consultant Jim Gates Jr.
The final project looking to get investment funding is a $15 million scheme put together by the people who had previously run Suffolk Downs. They want to breathe new life into the Great Barrington Fairgrounds.
Horse racing was last held here in 1998. However, there is some debate over whether the previous license can be seen as “grandfathering” the track, easing the way for the new plans to fall into place.
The next few months should go a long way towards defining the future of horse racing in Massachusetts. If one or more of these initiatives gather sufficient funding, then it would be a great boost for the local industry.