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  They Placed the Fix !     

Marshfield FairMarshfield Fair Logo

The Marshfield Fair was one of the first fair tracks in Massachusetts, it begin around 1935 when pari-mutual gambling was legalized in the state. It had a consecutive run for over fifty years when it finally ran out of gas in 1991. Like the other Eastern Massachusetts fair tracks it raced in late summer, usually in August. It's hard to believe an incident that occurred in 1980 would impact the fairs, but I think the Rockingham Park fire started the downward spiral of New England racing.

Marshfield Fair100 Yrs. and Counting

Before the Rockingham fire you could set your calendar by the New England racing schedule. After the fire things went haywire. Suffolk Downs took on more racing dates including the prime summer dates usually run at the Rock. This now caused more competition for the fairs in Eastern Massachusetts, because Suffolk Downs was a lot closer than Rockingham. Things got worst when  Rockingham re-opened causing a turf war with Suffolk, this now depleted horses from the fairs. Something had to give, and in 1989 Suffolk Downs went dark for two years. With Suffolk Downs out of the picture new owners at Foxboro Raceway petitioned the state for thoroughbred dates at the once only harness track in 1991. At the same time new owners were bringing Suffolk Downs back to life, something had to give again. This time it was Marshfield's turn, for some reason the state granted thoroughbred dates to Foxboro including those from Marshfield Fair. This would signal the end of racing in Marshfield for good.

No good fair track would be worth it's legacy if a little larceny wasn't involved, that was part of the charm. Marshfield's moment came in the first race of August 16, 1990. A horribly out of form shipper from Mountaineer Park named Milagros finished second in the race, after mysteriously being heavily bet. A few days later Milagros shows up again, this time his paperwork is checked a bit closer and some discrepancies are noted. Turns out the maiden Milagros is really Joshua's Sunny a much better quality animal. So what happened on August 16th, did someone else have a better ringer in the race? 

Today "Saratoga East" sits idle, the grandstand is still intact, but the racing surface is long gone. Fair racing was probably dying anyway, but Marshfield got a lot of help from the Massachusetts Racing Commission. In 1983, Suffolk Downs was looking for more desirable date to satisfy their requirement to run 250 days. At the time there was a non compete rule where Marshfield and Suffolk could not run head to head. To get around this formality the racing commission approved a 10 am start time for Suffolk Downs, allowing them to run on the same day as the fair. As it turned out, Marshfield out performed Suffolk Downs during this period, but the racing commission would get it's revenge.

After basically getting the same dates for 55 years, the racing commission for some strange reason granted Marshfield's dates to Foxboro Park, which had never before run a thoroughbred race. Marshfield Fair was granted 1992 dates in September, but those dates were never used, as Marshfield Fair decided to get out of the horse racing business. As for Foxboro Park, they never got to use all their dates, quietly getting out of flat racing before the end of the meet.