So, the closing of Suffolk Downs really fills me with ALL THE FEELINGS, most of which I’m not really sure I can put into words just quite yet. But, in the fallout over the decision there are a few things I’m seeing around in media and on Twitter and in comments (NEVER READ THE COMMENTS) that, well, grind my gears. They’re just so full of…snobbishness. *steps on soapbox*
Hey, you vultures circling! Knock it off.
Guys. The body isn’t cold yet. Can we hold off on discussing how the property would make an excellent innovation district, mixed use development, apartment complex, soccer stadium, parking lot, what have you. How about a racetrack. How about the property is close to Boston and maybe it’s a chance to do something different, to capitalize on the young, well-off population of the city and build new racing fans? How about the property is great for a racetrack so we can maintain *some* open space in an otherwise industrial area. Hey enormous gas tanks and airport parking lots, I see you there! Which brings me to my next point…
Stop saying what a shithole Suffolk Downs is.
You’re wrong, okay? Yes, it’s rough around the edges. Yes, it looks like parts of it haven’t been updated since the 50s, and you could probably stage an Olympic event based on navigating the undulating concrete floor. But they very well could’ve completely let the place go these past years, and they didn’t. It’s clean. The paint isn’t peeling. For a plant that is over 75 years old it’s in pretty good condition. The landscaping is actually quite lovely. And in the summer there is absolutely no better place to sit in the stands to watch some racing, enjoy a breeze off the ocean, and see that lovely infield and the marsh and Atlantic Ocean beyond.
Stop saying how shitty all the horses are.
I will not argue with you that Suffolk Downs doesn’t exactly feature racing’s brightest stars on the regular. But it’s not the worst race track in this country, and you all know that. I am increasingly troubled, in general, of the disregard the industry seems to have for tracks that aren’t top level any more. But beyond that…so what? Those horses still run. If you like horse racing, it’s still on display at Suffolk. These horses can’t make it at other tracks, but are still competitive. Let them run. Give them a place to do it.
Stop saying how the horses are better off somewhere else.
Suffolk Downs supports Thoroughbred retirement from the top down, and I would really like to see an example of another track that has done that, straight down to personally paying to get horses out of trouble. Seriously. Tell me about them, I would actually like to hear more of those stories. The horses at Suffolk have a very real, very successful venue for responsible retirement. A safety net a lot of them are going to lose when they go somewhere else.
Stop dismissing the horsemen (and women).
They’re not all killers, abusers, and heartless money-hungry assholes. The majority of the men and women on that backstretch are good people with small stables trying to make it in the game that they love. They deserve respect, and they shouldn’t be dismissed just because their jobs aren’t as profitable as yours are.
Anyway. I will be the first to step up and say that Suffolk’s demise is much more complicated than just losing a casino bid. And that should be hashed out and that conversation should happen. But how about doing it without dismissing Suffolk Downs as a backwater bush league track?
Stop turning your nose up at the place. And maybe just consider that if a place like Suffolk Downs—which anchored and supported a whole region’s TB industry—can go down it’s possible for any other historic gem of a racetrack to follow.