Suffolk Downs

Royal Breeze Racing Remains Bullish on Massachusetts Breeding and Racing

Royal Breeze Racing, a racing and breeding operation located in Harvard, Massachusetts, owns two Mass-breds, a yearling by Frosted and a weanling by Beau Liam. That may not seem like a lot but when you consider that only five horses were foaled in the state between 2021 and 2023, Royal Breeze has become a leader in an industry still trying to figure out how to stay afloat when there are no racetracks in the state. The last one left was Suffolk Downs, which has not raced since 2019. "We'd rather...

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An Appreciation: For Bullring Specialist Foley, Fun Was The Reason For Racing

Fred Foley, who died Oct. 15 at age 68 (obituary here), was not a big-name jockey during the time he came up through the ranks in New England in the 1970s and 80s. But in terms of being an affable, even-keeled racetracker and the type of guy you always wanted to stop and chat with if you ran into him on the backstretch, he was of Grade I caliber. Known for an easy, welcoming smile that his distinctive handlebar moustache could never conceal and an ever-present glint in his eye,...

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Mass-Bred Legend Dr Blarney Wins at 10, but Retirement May Be Near

It was starting to look like time had finally caught up with the old war horse Dr Blarney (Dublin). He came into an allowance race Monday at Finger Lakes having lost six straight, understandable considering the horse is 10 and made his debut in 2015 at Monmouth Park. But the pride of the Massachusetts breeding program was back on his game, winning by a length under jockey Jackie Davis. It was the ninth straight year in which he had won at least one race. "He's stayed relatively sound all these...

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Magic Formula for Curlin Succession

With barely a dozen race days to be eked out of its remaining two years, the Steve Pini Memorial S. of September 2017 formed part of a pretty low-key bookend to the history of Suffolk Downs. The Boston track's opening era, after all, had been propped up by Seabiscuit himself. But it turns out that this race, honoring the late track superintendent, deserves a rather lengthier footnote than anyone might have imagined at the time. Over an extended mile of turf, a 5-year-old daughter of Big Brown overtook Queen Caroline...

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Mass Breeders Continue to Push `Best-Kept Secret'

They call it the best-kept secret in racing, and why wouldn't it be? A state with no horse racing pays out hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses to Thoroughbred racehorses registered in that state winning at tracks all over North America. It's almost impossible to comprehend. Paul Umbrello, the Executive Director for the New England Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and a member of the board of directors for the Massachusetts Thoroughbred Breeders Association says that their goal is to ensure that they not only let the cat out...

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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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