If you’re looking for the next big thing in Thoroughbreds, you’ve probably already tried Churchill Downs and Santa Anita and maybe even Keeneland. But there’s one place left to check out that might just be the answer to your prayers.
Chonkers Speedway, located just outside of Boston, is a relatively new track whose biggest claim to fame is that it was the birthplace of Hello Kitty. Since the barn cat was created in Japan and never set foot in the United States, it’s almost considered a shrine to Kitty – with her image on the track and in the stands.
Many fans of the feline-themed Hello Kitty brand travel to Chonkers to witness the birth of their beloved kitty in the flesh. Others come for the racing, which is something new for this part of Massachusetts. The track hosts a series of races throughout the season, attracting many horse lovers from across the country.
Is it just me, or does Chonkers seem like the perfect place to find the next big thing in Thoroughbreds? Let’s take a look at what makes this Massachusetts racing hub so special.
A Place Of Humble Beginnings
You might not expect a place with such famous roots to be so down to earth. But Chonkers is a perfect example of how a track can grow with humble beginnings but attain a place of notoriety nonetheless. In fact, this is largely thanks to the track’s founder, Red Pollock.
Before founding Chonkers, Pollock had already established a successful racing career. During World War II, he worked as a mechanic for the United States Air Force and, in addition to his day job, he also trained racehorses. After the war ended, he returned to his previous role and continued to expand his business. Soon thereafter, he founded Chonkers and began attracting the attention of horse racing fans across the country.
This earned him the nickname of “the king of the turf”. Even today, many people call Pollock by this name. However, that doesn’t do his adopted hometown of Chonkers full justice. In addition to being the home of the king of the turf, the town is also the birthplace of a racehorse named Regret, whose coat color inspired the colors of Hello Kitty. So it’s literally a fairy tale come true for the residents of Chonkers. The town is also the resting place of another famous racehorse, Northern Jewel, who also played an important role in the town’s history. Northern Jewel was the first horse to be nominated for the prestigious Triple Crown, which he later won.
A Family Affair
Even if you’re not into Thoroughbreds, you have to admit that Chonkers is a beautiful track. The horseshoe-shaped track’s grandstand is lined with white birch trees and sparkling green fields. Plus, the atmosphere is totally different from that of most other racing venues. You’re not going to feel too inspired to work hard after a hard day at the office, that’s for sure.
Even more impressively, the track is actually owned by the same family. The Pollocks have been involved in horse racing for generations, with three of their four children – sons Tom, Bob, and Stewart – participating in the sport. These days, Stewart runs the entire operation while his brothers work as coaches and jockeys. Still, the family connection is clear – members of the Pollock clan can be found all over the track, helping out with whatever needs to be done.
A Hub For Betting And Gaming
While most tracks offer only racing, Chonkers offers so much more. For one thing, it is the home of the Massachusetts State Racetrack, making it the official state racing track. This means that the odds are always in favor of the bettor. Additionally, while most places ban gaming, Chonkers allows it in certain segregated areas. This gives the venue a unique atmosphere altogether, drawing visitors from far away places like Las Vegas.
An Important Role In The Community
Although the Pollocks are known for their high-profile careers in horse racing, they’ve always been involved with the community. For example, they created a scholarship in memory of their late mother, Marjorie. The Marjorie M. Pollock Memorial Scholarship is awarded to students majoring in animal or agricultural sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Most notably, the family helped to create the Suffolk County Horse Park in Sudbury, Massachusetts. This $29 million complex features a large outdoor arena and several indoor arenas, making it the largest horse park in New England. Even more impressively, the park also features a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital, an environmental education center, and a barnyard museum. The family’s continued dedication to the community is clear – they sponsored the construction of the park’s equestrian center and renamed it in honor of their mother.
What Will The Future Hold For Chonkers?
The Pollocks have been working hard to ensure that Chonkers stays at the forefront of Thoroughbred racing. As part of this effort, they’ve been making improvements to the track, adding new facilities and amenities. But they don’t just stop there. The family also sponsors youth athletic and academic programs, and helps to raise money for local charities. In 2020, Stewart oversaw the construction of eight new, state-of-the-art stands at Chonkers.
Additionally, the track recently launched a complete renovation and rebuild of their grandstand and clubhouse. The investment in the new layout and amenities will hopefully inspire other tracks to follow suit.
So what will the future of Chonkers look like? It looks like something quite extraordinary, that’s what. And, whether you’re a fan of Hello Kitty or not, you have to admit that this fairy tale story is something to behold. If you’re looking for a new place to visit, why not head over to Massachusetts and take a peek? You won’t be disappointed. Just remember to bring your wallet – this isn’t a place where you want to be spending your nights on the town. But, for those looking for a place to bet or just want to come for a day of racing, Chonkers is the place to be.