It was a sad day at Suffolk Downs last Saturday, and the grey, dreary day reflected the mood as thousands descended upon the historic oval to take in what is likely to be the last day of thoroughbred racing in New England.
It was a cloudy and rainy day on Sat., Oct. 4, at Suffolk Downs as the card was set for the final day of competition. More than 9,000 people lined the homestretch of the 79-year-old track to watch the final nine races to be held there. The track was muddy and fast, with die-hard race fans and new race fans there to send the track off with the best of good-byes. Bets were made, money was made and lost, but people were smiling and not sad. Many said they believe the track will be bought by someone new and re-opened in the spring.
However, that’s all up in the air right now with no definite sources, and Saturday was about racing – pure thoroughbred racing – and not casinos or ownership strife.
From the first race, “The Eddie Wrack” to the last race, “The Seabiscuit,” it was a fun-filled day with many tears shed. Most people braved the rain to see the races. The races of the day were all named after historical events that have taken place at Suffolk Downs or famous horses that have raced at Suffolk Downs. In between the live races, historical races on video and trivia facts about the track were being broadcast to the crowd.
For those involved in the actual racing, including some jockeys, Saturday was the end of an era.
Third generation racer Janelle Campbell of Revere has known racing all her life. She and her aunt, legendary jockey Tammi Piermarini, will be heading to a new track to race.
“I am always sad at the end of a meet; always sad the last day because I hate leaving home,” said Campbell. “This is where my heart is; my family. This is my house.”
Piermarini compared the job of being a jockey to that of being in a carnival in the sense that they have to travel to work.
“This is my job and I accept it as my life,” said Piermarini.
Eighth Note Stable’s Bo Badger won the last race of the day, dubbed “The Seabiscuit.” Jockey Taylor Hole rode the horse.
The five-year-old horse will likely be the last horse to win a race at Suffolk Downs, as will jockey Taylor Hole.