Special to the Journal
Over 21,000 racing fans packed Suffolk Downs for the final weekend of live racing at the historic oval as the track hosted its final weekend of live racing.
On Saturday, the track was forced to suspend the live racing card after the seventh race due to severe thunderstorms that rolled through the area. Live racing resumed Sunday with twelve races and brought out 12,311 fans despite passing storms early in the day.
“It was very gratifying to give live racing a fitting sendoff and we are amazed by what a wonderful and appreciative crowd showed up today to celebrate with us. We want to thank all the fans, our dedicated workforce, the horsemen and women who shipped in for the weekend and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s racing personnel who helped us with these festivals,” said Chip Tuttle, the Chief Operating Officer at Suffolk Downs. “Now we are looking forward to what’s next and hopefully continuing Thoroughbred racing in Massachusetts next year at the Great Barrington Fair Grounds.”
Tammi Piermarini, the third all-time leading female rider in history and a mainstay in New England racing, piloted home Saint Alfred in the $50,000 Thomas F. Moran Stakes for trainer Karl Grusmark and Joseph DiRico, the owner and breeder of the five-year-old Massachusetts-bred son of Dublin. Piermarini also teamed up with Jay Bernardini to win the sixth race with longshot Shackleson ($20.80).
“It means a lot to be able to win a race on the final day of live racing here and it was even sweeter to get to do it for two local trainers,” said Piermarini. “I have so many wonderful memories here and Suffolk Downs will always feel like home.”
Successful Saint, a homebred for owner Anthony Zizza, remained undefeated from four starts with an authoritative score in the $50,000 John Kirby Stakes with Jose Baez in the irons. The three-year—old gelded son of Successful Appeal is now four for four for trainer Dylan Clarke.
The final race in the track’s 84-year history was won in a maiden breaking score by Catauga County ($9.60) and jockey Andy Hernandez Sanchez. It was the third win of the day for Sanchez who also won the third race aboard longshot Morgan’s Z Va ($30.60) for M. Anthony Ferraro and the eighth race for the Matthew Clarke-trained Fifty Eight OG ($24.60).
Following the final live racing weekend scheduled for June 29-30, the track will remain open year-round for simulcasting. Sterling Suffolk Racecourse (SSR), the company that operates racing and simulcasting at Suffolk Downs, is currently working alongside the New England HPBA and the Massachusetts Thoroughbred Breeders Association (MTBA) on plans to refurbish and return live racing to the Great Barrington Fairgrounds in Great Barrington, Mass., and to continue simulcasting operations in Boston.
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.
For more information, visit www.suffolkdowns.com.