Suffolk Downs

Trailblazer Jessica Paquette Set to Debut as Parx Announcer

Jessica Paquette never imagined that she would become the full-time announcer at a major racetrack. Neither did anyone else. The job, for as long as the sport has been around, has been a profession that largely excluded women. But when the field loads into the gate at Parx Racing for Tuesday's first race, Paquette will be high atop the grandstand, nervous but excited, and ready to make history. "The best thing we can all hope for in this sport is to leave the game a little bit better than it...

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The Week in Review: Back-of-Van Ride to Victory for Trainer Kirby in Claiming Crown

When trainer Tom Van Berg won two Claiming Crown races Saturday with his first horses in that series, most racing regulars made the connection to his father, the late Hall-of-Fame conditioner Jack Van Berg. But a link to another family legacy in that series might not have been as apparent: John Timothy Kirby, 25, who also saddled his first Claiming Crown starter to a victory in his first-ever race at Churchill Downs, is a third-generation horseman with strong roots that run deep in New England. In fact, after more than...

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Sterling Suffolk Racecourse Names New COO

Michael Buckley has been named the new chief operating officer of Sterling Suffolk Racecourse LLC, the simulcast wagering facility and prospective applicant for a Massachusetts sports wagering license which formerly operated as Suffolk Downs racetrack. Buckley is a principal at Belmont Capital LLC, one of Suffolk Racecourse's three owners. "On behalf of the SSR ownership, we are pleased to have Mike take on this new role as we work toward implementing sports betting along with our simulcast wagering business," said Richard Fields, one of Sterling Suffolk's principal owners. "I'm excited...

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Jessica Paquette Named New Parx Track Announcer

Jessica Paquette, a New England native with nearly 20 years of experience in horse racing, will be the new voice of Parx Racing starting in December. In accepting the position, Paquette becomes the only full-time, year-round female track announcer in the United States. "I am grateful for the women in the racing industry who have paved the way for my generation to work in so many different areas," said Paquette. "My hope is that I can similarly help inspire young women who may want to be part of our sport."...

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Racing in Massachusetts May Be Nearing Return

A group hoping to revitalize horse racing in Massachusetts is in the process of finalizing an application to the Massachusetts Racing Commission for a license to operate a track in the town of Hardwick. The project, which has been named Commonwealth Equine and Agricultural Center, is far enough along that there could be a limited amount of racing offered at the new track as soon as next year. Hardwick is located in the central part of the state, about 75 miles west of Boston. The track will be located at...

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With Legalization of Sports Wagering, Renewed Hope That Racing Will Return to Massachusetts

A compromise agreement on a bill authorizing sports betting in Massachusetts was reached Monday, which could be the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to horse racing returning to the Bay State. Behind the scenes, a group of investors has been working to open a new track in the state ever since Suffolk Downs closed its doors in 2019, but understood that their plans would not be practical without there being a source of revenue beyond what can be made off of selling bets. With sports betting about...

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Fire Destroys Suffolk Downs Press Box

A six-alarm fire destroyed the press box and announcer's booth atop the historic grandstand at Suffolk Downs in East Boston Monday night. The former Massachusetts track was vacant at the time except for security personnel, and no one was injured in the blaze. As firefighters monitored hot spots and tried to determine a cause Tuesday morning, there was a sense of "it could have been worse" among neighbors and onlookers at the scene. Although the roof of the building sustained fire and water damage, the hulking steel-and-concrete structure built in...

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Robert Raymond Passes Away

Robert "Bobby" Raymond passed away Sunday at Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor, Fla., from septic shock. He was 74. Raymond trained 1,294 winners during his 43-year career and finished eighth in the 2020-2021 trainer's standings at Tampa Bay Downs. The longtime trainer suffered an infection in a cut on his leg and was rushed to the hospital last Friday. His condition gradually worsened over the next two days before he passed away at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday. "He never stopped fighting. His heart was so big," Rob Raymond said...

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Veteran Racing Secretary Creel Dies From Cardiac Complications

Tom Creel, a well-respected East Coast-based racing secretary and official whose career spanned parts of five decades, died on Thanksgiving Eve from cardiac complications at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York. He was 64. Sam Elliott, a longtime friend and coworker, confirmed Creel's death to TDN Friday. He said Creel had suffered a heart attack several weeks ago. On Nov. 22 Creel underwent an eight-hour surgery to implant an artificial heart pump, but developed complications from that procedure and was unable to recover, Elliott said. Creel had taken over...

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John Botty, Well-Respected New England Trainer, Dies at 65

John T. Botty, a retired and well-respected New England trainer known for his attention to detail, patience, and knack for developing young horses, died suddenly Apr. 30 after suffering a stroke. Botty was 65 and lived in Pelham, New Hampshire. He had remained active in the sport as a bloodstock consultant after stepping away from daily work under racetrack shed rows in 2015. For the better part of three decades, Botty, together with his wife of 32 years, Kathleen, ran a successful, mid-sized racing stable based out of Suffolk Downs...

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Pat Lamberty, Former Suffolk TV Host and Centennial Farms Rep, Dies at 43

The New England racing community is mourning the loss of Patrick R. Lamberty, known for his work as a Suffolk Downs broadcast handicapper in the early 2000s, then later as the head of client management and sales for the Centennial Farms bloodstock and racing syndicate in his native Massachusetts. He was 43. Lamberty died Dec. 16, 2020, in Pompano Beach, Florida. But it was not until Feb. 2 that news of his death began circulating among friends via an online tribute archive hosted by a cremation company that provided services...

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Defunct Tracks: Letters to the Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR In Sunday's TDN, we published Bill Finley's ode to shuttered racetracks, and asked others to try to beat his number of 28 at which he had attended live racing. Here are a few of the letters we received about the piece. What a wonderful and moving article from Bill Finley on defunct racetracks. I have no claim to even being close to Bill's record and certainly not to his great memories. When I was about 10 years old, I remember my folks taking us to Hialeah...

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