Suffolk Downs notifies workers it will close

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BOSTON (AP) — Suffolk Downs, New England's only thoroughbred horse racing track, has told its workers it will close by year's end because Mohegan Sun did not win a Massachusetts casino license.

Chip Tuttle, the track's chief operating officer, said workers were told Wednesday that the live horse racing season that ends Sept. 29 will be the track's last. The 79-year-old track, which straddles East Boston and Revere, will continue to offer betting on simulcast racing until November or December, he said.

The news came the day state gambling regulators finalized their award of the lone Boston-area casino license to Wynn Resorts for a $1.6 billion project on the Everett waterfront. Mohegan Sun had proposed a $1.1 billion resort casino at Suffolk Downs.

In the coming days, Tuttle said, track owners will formally notify workers at concession stands and other vendors, as well as the owners, breeders and trainers of horses that compete at Suffolk Downs.

He said the closing would affect nearly 200 workers directly employed by the track, plus hundreds more who work for vendors and with the horses. Tuttle declined to comment on future development plans for the roughly 160-acre site, which has its own subway stop and is located just a few miles from Logan airport and downtown Boston.

"We're focused on supporting our workers through this transition. We're focused on turning the page," Tuttle said. "We've been at this a long time, and we don't want to create any false sense of hope. We're dealing with some very devastated people here."

Tuttle said the track hasn't been profitable for about seven years and its owners — developer Richard Fields and food concessions entrepreneur Joe O'Donnell — have lost about $50 million to $60 million during that time.

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