Great Barrington to decide on citizen home rule vote for possible return of horse racing

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GREAT BARRINGTON — As a company awaits legislation that will allow it to move its horse racing operation to the Fairgrounds here, its move also could hinge on approval by town voters.

At a special town meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at Monument Mountain Regional High School, residents will take a vote on whether a town referendum should be required for Sterling Suffolk Racecourse LLC to move its live thoroughbred operation to the Fairgrounds.

A home rule petition with 298 registered signatures forced the special town meeting.

The petition, started by Citizens Concerned about GB Horse Racing, was sparked by a myriad of concerns about the sport other related issues after Sterling Suffolk proposed a revival of racing at the fairgrounds.

Sterling Suffolk held its final race in June at its Suffolk Downs East Boston track after it sold the property to a developer in 2017. The company has an option with the fairgrounds' owner for a long-term lease and is planning to refurbish the property to prepare it for up to 40 racing days per year, and continue simulcasting.

Sterling Suffolk Chief Operating Officer Chip Tuttle told The Eagle that the company still has a "strong interest" in reviving horse racing here, and is supportive of the "participatory local approval process."

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.

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