LANCASTER — The owner of some of the country’s most famous thoroughbred racetracks is considering building a track in north Lancaster, town officials said.
Selectman Mark Grasso said a landowner approached the board about a week ago, saying he had been approached by The Stronach Group. Grasso would not name the property owner. The property is likely in the Route 70 area, which has about 600 acres of developable land, Grasso said.
The Stronach Group is scheduled to make a presentation to the Planning Board at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The Stronach Group, based in Canada, owns six tracks in the United States, including Santa Anita in California, Gulfstream Park in Florida, and Pimlico in Maryland, home of the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown. A Lancaster track would be Stronach’s first in New England.
The selectmen, Planning Board and Conservation Commission plan to come together to talk about the potential for a racetrack, Grasso said.
Discussion will help the town and Stronach decide whether a horse racing track is what is best for both groups, he said.
“The good thing is that Lancaster is an agricultural community,” he said. “When a project like this comes in, that can support local agriculture.”
“We owe it to the group to keep an open mind,” Grasso said.
He said he hopes that a racetrack would provide jobs. It could create the need for farmers who supply hay or people to work in the stables, he said.
In addition to tapping into the town’s agricultural industry, a racetrack could appeal to people in town who work with or own horses, Grasso said.
“There is just a lot of love for the animal in town,” he said.
An equestrian facility at Liberty Hill Farms has riding lessons, horse training and boarding.
Stronach’s tracks range from 100 to 300 acres.
The group considered developing a thoroughbred racetrack in Raynham, but decided not to. Stronach Chief Operating Officer Tim Rivto said a 2017 podcast episode for the “Thoroughbred Daily News” that using the Raynham site, a greyhound racetrack that closed decades ago, wasn’t doable.
The New England horse racing scene has been in flux in recent years.
Suffolk Downs in East Boston will hold its final weekend of racing on Aug, 4 and 5. The track will be turned into a housing and shopping district.
Sterling Suffolk Racecourse LLC, which operated Suffolk Downs, plans to refurbish Great Barrington Fairgrounds and begin live races as soon as next year.
Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville has live harness racing, in which the jockeys sit in a two-wheeled cart connected to a horse.
Horse racing is regulated by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which sets rules for licensing for operators, betting and drug testing for the animals.
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