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2020 Update: New Hampshire is officially a dark state. Now that Rockingham Park and Hinsdale Raceway have been demolished, there is no sign that pari-mutual horse racing ever existed in the Granite State. Dog racing was banned in 2010, but the two dog tracks in the state are still standing. The track at Belmont is now a semi casino featuring poker. The track at Seabrook, has just been remodeled and is a poker and simulcast center. The only place to bet on horseracing in the state.

It is highly unlikely racing will ever return to the state, but why did it end? Where it all begin, was the slogan for Rockingham Park in the seventies, should it have been where it all ended? 

Rockingham Park first opened on June 28, 1906 at that time wagering was illegal in New Hampshire. Betting went on for three days before the law stepped in and shut down wagering. With the loss of betting came the loss of interest in racing and that was the end of that.

Like most states still reeling from the great depression and looking for revenue the Legislature legalized Pari-Mutual racing on April 23, 1933. Wasting no time Rockingham Park reopened on June 21, 1933. The Park reigned as the showcase of New England racing for many years until 1980 when a devastating blaze leveled the grandstand.

 The grandstand was eventually rebuilt and after four years the facility reopened. Although the new venue was a showcase, the glory years never returned. In the small town of Hinsdale just over the Massachusetts border in Western New Hampshire a harness track was opened in 1958. Standardbreds ruled for twenty five years at Hinsdale but attendance and handle started to slip so dog racing was brought in to help revenues. A split meet was run until 1985 when it was converted to all dog racing. In December of 2008 the track suddenly  closed overnight, leaving employees and ticket holders out in the cold.

 There was also a fair meet that was run at The Rochester Fair for harness horses each year but that has passed into history also.

Rockingham Park is all that's left of New Hampshire's horse industry, it ran a token two month harness meet for a while after it gave up thoroughbred racing in 2002, but that too is history. Idle from live racing since 2010, Rockingham Park remains open for simulcasting a shell of it's former self. The owners still cling to the hope that casino gaming will be legalized in New Hampshire, but with every state in New England except Vermont already passing such legislation it seems unlikely. In the state with the famous "Live Free or Die" motto it looks like Rockingham Park faces the latter. 

On Wednesday, August 31, 2016 Rockingham Park closed it's doors forever, leaving New Hampshire without a racetrack for the first time in one hundred and ten years. I'm not sure but that might leave a small OTB in Hinsdale, as the only place to place a legal bet in the state. That too might be in jeopardy, as the owners must build a track to keep their license and that's probably a longshot!