Pacers and trotters are strapped in and back on the move at Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville. The harness racing season is underway as of Monday, April 11.
You can catch live racing on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays until September, when the times change for fall. Post time is 4 p.m.
Plainridge Park Casino, one of three Massachusetts casinos, has over 1,200 slots inside and full set of table games in addition to the track. It’s the only operating horse racing track in Massachusetts.
Plainridge is located off I–495, just an hour south of Boston, 30 minutes north of Providence. If you’ve ever been to Gillette Stadium (home of the New England Patriots), it’s about 10 minutes from there.
What is harness racing?
Harness racing is different than thoroughbred racing. Harness racing involves matching horses at a specific gait, either “pacing” or “trotting.”
Trotters move their legs in diagonal pairs (right front and left behind) while pacers move their legs together (right side, then left). Almost every harness race is a mile long. There are more pacing races than trotting races, because pacing horses are faster.
However, you’ll likely hear people at the casino accidentally mix up the two terms.
The horses pull two–wheeled cars, called sulkies or spiders, that contain the drivers. Harness races don’t usually start from a stationary gate, since the horses have to be moving. A motorized vehicle carries the gate until all the horses are in step.
Special events on the card
Plainridge Park, working with the Harness Association of New England, has added two new races on the Grand Circuit schedule for 3–year–old harness racing pacers and trotters.
The Paul Revere Pace, with a $100,000 purse, will be contested on April 28. The Bunker Hill Trot, also with a $100,000 prize, will be held on Monday, May 16.
These are key events leading up to the Kentucky Derby of harness racing: The Hambletonian, on August 6 at The Meadowlands in New Jersey.
The other big day at Plainridge is Sunday, July 24. That day’s main event is the fifth Spirit of Massachusetts Trot. Manchego has won the last two editions, finishing in 1:50 flat on the mile course in 2021 and a new world record 1:49.3 in 2020 for aged trotting mares.
In addition to the Spirit of Massachusetts Trot, the Clara Barton Distaff Pace is also on the way. Plainridge also offers simulcast betting options, starting most days at noon.
If you can’t make it out to Plainridge, you can watch and wager on harness racing online. Massachusetts allows advanced-deposit wagering through platforms such as TVG. These platforms have live video feeds, as well as an abundance of wagering options.