Suffolk Downs officials will announce the return of the Grade 2 $300,000 Massachusetts Handicap for 2006 after a one-year hiatus and plans on moving the race to September 30, away from its traditional late spring place on the calendar, in an attempt to make it a prep race for the Breeders' Cup Classic.
The Mass Cap was cancelled last year when slow simulcasting business forced the track to redistribute the funds from the major stakes events into day-to-day races. It was last run in 2004 when Offlee Wild upset Funny Cide. It had also been cancelled in 2003.
For years the Mass Cap was positioned as a major stop on the handicap season and was usually run in June. First run in 1935, it has been won by champions Seabiscuit, Whirlaway, War Admiral and Riva Ridge. After the track closed in 1989, new owners, led by James B. Moseley, brought the race back in 1995 for the first of two appearance by Cigar during his 16-race winning streak. Skip Away followed with two wins in 1997 and 98.
The new date comes at a time when there will be less competition on the schedule in the Northeast for major handicap horses with NYRA moving the Woodward to the final week of Saratoga's meet.
"We are excited about bringing the MassCap back," said Suffolk Downs Chief Operating Officer Bob O'Malley. "The MassCap has a great tradition and our fans have always come out to support it. With the race scheduled five weeks before the Breeders' Cup, it will be a logical spot for some of the Classic Division contenders to make their final prep."
Suffolk opens the 2006 season Saturday.