Massachusetts is trying desperately to be a major player in the horse racing game, and there’s much to celebrate with at least one of the state’s tracks. Suffolk Downs has been receiving more generous purses and horse men in the state and surrounding areas are gearing up to supply the new demands offered by the state’s illustrious track. Unfortunately, plans for the Brockton Meet have hit some financial blockades.
The Brockton Fairgrounds has been attempting to host its own series of racing programs for quite some time. The track’s owner is George Carney, and he is desperately fighting for some funds that should be disbursed to the proposed Brockton Meet from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC). The sum in question is worth a little over $1.4 million and would be used towards purses, which are essential in attracting horse men to any event. Another $1.1 million is also being requested by Carney for a total of $2.5 million.
Alex Leighton serves as the interim director for the MGC as well as its chief veterinarian. Alongside Catherine Blue, who is the general councel for the MGC, Leighton is attempting to give Carney due process in regards to the Brockton Meet proposal. “This was a difficult decision, because we understand the passion of the folks involved and their desire to race at Brockton,” Blue stated. “But the issue here is a legal one, and it did not pass legal muster.”
Stephen Crosby, the chairman of the MGC also made comment regarding the legalities of the process. “It looks to me to be pretty black-and-white. There is no other bucket of money. We’re trying to be flexible, and to be flexible in the distribution of the RHDF, but we can’t get to ‘yes’ if we can’t get to the question of whether the $1.4 million is appropriate.”
Fortunately, Carney has supporters from the Massachusetts Thoroughbred Horseman Association in the form of Bill Lagorio, who has been working closely with the Brockton Meet. “I’ve attended every meeting with attorney Blue and Dr. Lightbown, and it was never said to me that the money could not be used. This interpretation of the law is new to me,” said Lagorio.
It’s obvious that the Brockton Meet has endured some serious problems in getting off the ground. The track’s financial state is also pressed by renovations to the facility that would comply with equine safety standards and jockey welfare. Getting the Brockton Fairgrounds up to standard, and then using disbursements to fund purses so they can run races is all fair play and when you’re moving money around like this, the administrative decision makers have to ensure that it’s being spent properly.
Carney has been behind for most steps along the way, but it doesn’t feel like he’s too far off from seeing the Brockton Meet come to life. Taking two steps forward and one step back may not be a way to win a race, but it’s somehow how these programs come to be.