Horse racing track proposed in Rowley

Courtesy imageThe site plan for a horse racing track proposed off Route 133 in Rowley.

ROWLEY — A local investment firm plans to build a $60 million horse racing track off Route 133 and expects to lay out details for selectmen Monday night.

Rowley Group LLC is partnering with the Massachusetts Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association to bring a full-time thoroughbred track to a 284-acre plot in town. 

Amesbury resident and former Latitude Sports Clubs owner John Grossi, the managing member of Rowley Group, said the racetrack would be built between the Rowley police station and the Rowley Country Club.

Grossi said the group has invested about $6 million in the property and is looking to obtain the rights to simulcast and take bets for races at other tracks. 

"We looked at other locations in all parts of the state," he said. "If the town and its residents accept it, it will be a great benefit for the town because the money it would be receiving through the simulcast wagering could run up to $1 million."

A joint press release issued by Rowley Group and the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association said reviving the thoroughbred racing and breeding industry is expected to bring more than $500 million in economic impact to the state and generate "significant annual revenues to the Town of Rowley."

In an interview Thursday, Grossi said, “This is a great thing for the community, a great thing for thoroughbred racing. It is an exciting thing and could be a great benefit for the town. A lot of times people say 'no' until they understand it but once they do, they are in favor of it."

The press release also said the thoroughbred racing industry is "the foundation for the preservation of thousands of acres of open space throughout the Commonwealth and the proposed project would tie together several hundred acres in Rowley preserving open space within the town."

There has been no thoroughbred racing in the state ever since Suffolk Downs ended live races this summer.

Gambling on horse racing is "not what people think it is" in the 21st century, according to Grossi.

"Someone can make a bet in Worcester and Rowley would get a piece of it because it would go through the host track," Grossi said. "It's a big deal in this state to bring (thoroughbred horse racing) back. It's not like it used to be where people have to come to the town. They can place a bet from their living room."

Global architectural and design company Populous has been chosen as the project's designer and plans for the racetrack call for a 1-mile dirt surface and a turf surface that is seven-eighths of a mile and designed to "enhance jockey and equine safety."

Grossi said the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association plans to present details of the project to selectmen at Town Hall on Monday at 7 p.m.

For more on the horsemen's association, go to www.masstha.com/.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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