After the Horses Are Gone

By Mikaela Lefrak

After the horses are gone from Suffolk Downs, only the men are left. They’re there to gamble on televised races, Keno, the Massachusetts lottery —anything with a ticket, they’ll buy.

A few women still work there — one will sell you a hot dog, another will redeem your Keno ticket, if it happens to be a lucky one. Otherwise, it’s a man’s world, and it smells like it. The place is permeated with the smell of old cigarettes and cigars, mothballs, and that softly pungent scent of old man.

Security guards and custodians idly prowl the halls. No one goes outside, where the soggy track lies fallow. It’s too cold out there, anyway.


A clerk counts money from simulcast race bets at Suffolk Downs. 23 Nov 2014.

Suffolk Downs broadcasts dozens of races from across the country. 23 Nov 2014.

Men watch simulcast races amidst dozens of discarded bet tickets. 23 Nov 2014.

A man checks his Massachusetts lottery ticket. 23 Nov 2014.

A man watches a simulcast of a horse race in another state. 23 Nov 2014.

Despite the track closure, Keno is still popular in the betting halls at Suffolk Downs. 23 Nov 2014.

A padlocked gate blocks the back entrance to the racetrack. 23 Nov 2014.

“Horses are like women,” says Martin in his thick Irish brogue. “You’ll never understand them. 23 Nov 2014.

A waterlogged visitor log from 2012 sits in one of the guard’s posts in the parking lot. 23 Nov 2014.

The empty parking lots at Suffolk Downs. 23 Nov 2014.