Suffolk Downs marks its final day of live horse races with tributes to its storied past

Industries Associated Press

Suffolk Downs, New England's last thoroughbred horse track, celebrated its storied past with a series of tributes Saturday on its final day of live races.

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The once-grand Boston track recognized some of the most famous horses, jockeys, announcers and performers during its nearly 80-year history with live and video presentations.

Among those highlighted were "Eddie Wrack," the horse that won the track's inaugural race in 1935, and "Seabiscuit," the legendary Depression-era thoroughbred that won a major race held there in 1937.

The track, which will continue to offer simulcast betting until December, also cleared out its promotional inventory, selling vintage souvenirs and other memorabilia. Sale proceeds will benefit CANTER New England and the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, which help horses transition to life after racing.

Chip Tuttle, Suffolk Downs' chief operating officer, hopes the tributes offer an "appropriate appreciation" for the facility's history and legacy.

Saturday's live races are the last under the track's current owners, Sterling Suffolk Racecourse LLC. The company, whose investors include prominent casino developer Richard Fields, has been losing money on the facility for years. State regulators recently rejected a planned Mohegan Sun resort casino that was expected to revive the track's fortunes.

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Still, a group of local horse owners and trainers are trying to keep live races going at Suffolk Downs and have filed an application for a 2015 state horse racing license. New England Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association says it is trying to work out a lease with Sterling Suffolk Racecourse.

Brockton Fairgrounds owner George Carney has also applied for a license to return thoroughbred races to that 5/8th-mile track.