Suffolk Downs


BPL Print Department.


Suffolk Downs opened in 1935 as the first thoroughbred racing venue in Massachusetts. Home of the popular Massachusetts Handicap, the racetrack has welcomed many hall-of-fame horses, riders, and trainers throughout its more than 70 year history.
During the Great Depression in the 1930s, cash-strapped state governments looked for new means to increase their treasuries during hard times. In 1934, Massachusetts legalized pari-mutuel racing and, within a year, the Eastern Racing Association—led by Boston Bruins founder and president Charles F. Adams—constructed Suffolk Downs, the state’s first thoroughbred racing track.

Built on 200 acres of mudflats in East Boston, Suffolk Downs opened its doors in July 1935 to widespread acclaim. From 1930 to 1970, horse races were among the most popular and widely attended sporting events nationwide, competing only with baseball for fans’ affections. The track remains the last thoroughbred racing track in New England and currently offers scores of live races annually in addition to a variety of events and concerts.

Featured Photographs


View additional images of Suffolk Downs in the Boston Public Library’s collection on Flickr