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Racing might return to New England's last thoroughbred track

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BOSTON (AP) New England's last remaining thoroughbred horse racing track might continue to hold live races after all.

Months after its owners said they would stop hosting races after the 2014 season, Suffolk Downs and the New England Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association announced Friday that they've reached an agreement to hold races in 2015 and 2016. The deal would allow the association, which represents about 900 horse owners and trainers, to lease the track from Sterling Suffolk Racecourse LLC.

The two groups said in a joint statement that the potential restoration of live racing would protect hundreds of jobs in the regional thoroughbred horse industry, dozens of breeding farms and thousands of acres of open space.

The deal is contingent on state lawmakers approving enabling legislation. The state Gaming Commission also needs to approve the arrangement. It has already granted the association a provisional racing license, pending completion of the deal.

Sterling Suffolk Racecourse hosted its last races at the nearly 80-year-old facility in October, shortly after Mohegan Sun lost its bid for a casino license to build an over $1 billion resort on the property.

That license ultimately went to Wynn Resorts for its proposed $1.6 billion resort in Everett, a Boston suburb.

Chip Tuttle, the chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs, said the company still remains focused on the site's long-term development and continues to explore other options.