A proposal to bring horse racing back to the Brockton Fairgrounds after 15 years was dealt a major blow on Wednesday.
The Massachusetts Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (MTHA) asked the Gaming Commission to provide about $3.9 million from the state's Race Horse Development Fund to aid an effort to bring back live racing to Brockton.
That fund — which has already raised $23.7 million — was created five years ago from a tax on casinos aimed at reviving horse racing in Massachusetts.
About $2.5 million of the sum MTHA requested is intended for purses to fund the first 15 days of live racing at the Brockton track. The additional $1.5 million was requested to fix the track and for other operational expenses.
The Gaming Commission approved the full sum requested for purses, but not for operational costs. The commission cited a law that does not allow them to fund those expenses. After reviewing costs line by line, the commission approved approximately $400,000 of the $1.5 million requested. Those funds are earmarked for training and stalling, with no money going toward fixing the track.
However, Brockton Fairgrounds owner Chris Carney says they need the full sum to bring back live horse racing to the track this year.
"I think we're going down in flames," he said. "We've been down this road before and I don't think it's going to happen now just from understanding what the feel of the commission is."
The New England Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association has said Brockton's track is in bad shape and is unsafe. The track would have to pass safety tests before it could open for racing, according to state officials.
Carney says he is hopeful about bringing racing back to the Brockton Fairgrounds in the future.
With reporting by WBUR's Bruce Gellerman