Fairgrounds racing bill in Legislature kindles concern for home rule

(Gary Leveille Collection) Thoroughbreds racing at the Great Barrington Fairgrounds in the 1930’s.

GREAT BARRINGTON — The town’s Fairgrounds were once the scene of thoroughbred horse racing and gambling. And if a piece of legislation is passed through the state Legislature, that scene could be reprised.

The mention of that bill, however, fueled a heated discussion during Monday’s selectboard meeting in Great Barrington. During the meeting, board member Leigh Davis opened a dialogue regarding the bill, “An Act relative to regulating horse racing and wagering,” which was filed by state Sen. Joseph Boncore, D-Winthrop back in January.

In May, Sterling Suffolk Racecourse announced plans to open a commercial horse racing track at the Great Barrington Fairgrounds, which follows the renewal of their lease at the property last fall, said Davis.

But to even get a horse in that race, Sterling Suffolk would first need the state Legislature to approve that bill, which has been referred to the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure following a public hearing that was held on July 1.

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