Led by principal owner and horse enthusiast Richard Fields, Suffolk Downs has demonstrated a commitment to the lifetime care of Thoroughbreds once their racing careers have come to an end.
Once a racehorse is retired, some have value and potential as stallion prospects or broodmares. Some equine athletes go on to compete in dressage events or show jumping. Others are simply retired by caring owners to live as pets on a farm.
For the last decade, Suffolk Downs has provided significant financial support to both the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) and CANTER New England. The track works closely with both organizations to find suitable homes for retired racehorses.
In 2008, Suffolk Downs made national news by becoming the first racetrack in the country to implement a strict anti-slaughter policy for owners and trainers with horses stabled on its grounds. Since then, virtually every major racetrack in the country has adopted a similar policy.
In 2009, Suffolk Downs and the TRF, through the support of the Fields Family Foundation, established a home for retired racehorses at the Plymouth County Sheriff's Farm in Plymouth, MA, where inmates from the Plymouth County Correctional Facility care for the horses as part of the facility’s vocational program.
Since 2006, toward the end of each racing season, CANTER New England hosts a “Showcase” in the Suffolk Downs stable area to give people interested in purchasing a retired Thoroughbred an opportunity to see a number of available horses in one place. CANTER helps facilitate the communication between the prospective buyers and current horse owners and trainers.
Owners and trainers who stable their horses at Suffolk Downs contribute to the track’s Thoroughbred retirement efforts as part of the purse agreement between the track and the New England HBPA. Dodge Grain, the on-site feed provider at Suffolk Downs, contributes a percentage of its sales of Nutrena Feeds products to the TRF.
Suffolk Downs fans have generously contributed to its Thoroughbred retirement programs through the purchase of season passes and by bidding on items in silent auctions conducted during the racing season.
TRF Second Chances at Plymouth County Sheriff’s Farm
In 2009, Suffolk Downs and the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF), through the support of the Fields Family Foundation, established a home for retired racehorses at the Plymouth County Sheriff's Farm in Plymouth, MA, where inmates from the Plymouth County Correctional Facility care for the horses as part of the facility’s vocational program. Among the horses who have spent time at the farm are:
Lifetime record: 34: 3-0-4, Earnings: $32,494
Charlie Business made his career debut at Gulfstream Park in Florida and really hit his stride once coming to Suffolk Downs. He broke his maiden in May of 2007 at Suffolk with a game victory over a strong field and stepped up in class next time out to post a nose-decision against allowance company in a thrilling upset victory. He was back in the Suffolk Downs winners' circle in August of 2008 after another narrow victory and though his margins of victory were always small, he was a tough racehorse that always seemed to prevail in a fight to the wire.
Lifetime record: 24: 7-1-2, Earnings: $103,728
Energy Center made his career debut in 2007 with high expectations. He broke his maiden in June of that year to become the first winner for his sire, 2002 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Volponi. From there, he went on to hold his own against high-level company in Canada. From July through November of 2008, he had a five-race winning streak, winning by a combined margin of over 27 lengths. Throughout his 24-race career, he was very popular at the claim box, having been claimed seven times, including three times by the same owner. He made his Suffolk Downs debut in May of 2009, finishing third against a competitive field. Two starts later, he splashed home to victory at Suffolk over a sloppy racetrack for the final win of his career.
Lifetime record: 47: 11-8-7, Earnings: $236,860
Future Fantasy was consistently at the top of the ranks at Suffolk Downs throughout his five-year career. Since breaking his maiden at Suffolk as a three-year-old in 2004, he became a force to be reckoned with, winning races at the highest level in each season of racing. He consistently held his own against the best horses at Suffolk and became known for his versatility - he was fast enough to go to the lead and go gate-to-wire, but as he got older he developed a strong late surge as well. Nine of his 11 career wins were at Suffolk. His greatest achievement was a victory in the $75,000 John B. Campbell Handicap at Laurel Park in February of 2007.
Lifetime record: 59: 10-12-4, Earnings: $77,720
Red Miah made his career debut in 2001 and in November of that year earned his first career victory. He held his own against allowance company for several years before making his Suffolk Downs debut in May of 2003. After making his first trip to the Suffolk Downs winners' circle in August of that year, he quickly established himself as a fierce, blue-collar competitor. Known for his front-running style, this gelding went on to race 45 times at Suffolk Downs, winning seven races and finishing on the board on 11 other occasions. Throughout his career, he was claimed four separate times and his final owner/trainer, Charles McKenney, had him from October of 2004 until his last start in October of 2009.
SING ME BACK HOME
Lifetime record: 114: 15-29-18, Earnings: $619,541
Sing Me Back Home broke his maiden in his third career start in October of 2000 and over the course of his 10-year career made 114 starts, winning 15 of them and finishing on the board a total of 62 times. His career earnings were $619,541. He competed in 18 stakes races, winning two and routinely kept company with some of the best sprinters in the country, including Eclipse Award champions Speightstown and Aldebaran. He made his first start at Suffolk Downs in May of 2007 and went on to finish on the board in 24 of his 39 starts there, winning four and establishing himself as one of the classiest, hard-knocking old warhorses on the grounds. Even at 11-years-old, he still showed enthusiasm for being a racehorse, recording the final win of his career on October 27, 2009.
CANTER New England
Frank's Green Money had his retirement party in the Suffolk Downs winner's circle with his new owners, the Gitty Up Club of Arundel, ME
Volunteers from the Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-racehorses of New England (CANTER New England) are on the backside every Saturday morning, and are available to work with interested buyers looking to find a retiring competitor.
Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation
The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation has a representative at the track throughout the racing season and can be contacted by e-mail as well.
You can learn more about the TRF by visiting their website.
Second-Career Success Stories
Sea Yain Hollywood, or "Hollywood" as he is now known, may not have hit it big as a racehorse, but since embarking on his second career in 2008, he has enjoyed great success in the dressage arena. The five-year-old son of Sea of Secrets has taken to his new career with gusto and has performed well in his first year of competition. Dressage is a class equestrian sport in which the horse and rider perform a series of specific movements in an arena and are judged on the horse's obedience and responsiveness to the rider's aids. This discipline showcases the unique harmony between horse and rider and competitions range from the amateur level to the Olympic level.
Click here to see “Hollywood” in his new career.
If you have a second-career success story about a retired thoroughbred who used to race in New England, we want to hear about it. Send us an email.