Led by the $250,000 Virginia Derby (G3), Colonial Downs announced its 2019 stakes schedule for the 15-day race meeting, Aug. 8 – Sept. 7, which will include $1.8 million in stakes purses as flat racing returns to Virginia for the first time since 2013.
Through the investment of the Colonial Downs Group, Colonial Downs has been reestablished for the 2019 season. Located between Richmond and Williamsburg, Colonial Downs will offer daily purses averaging a minimum of $500,000, which will comprise an approximate $7.5 million in total purses allocated for the meeting.
With the Barn Area reopening on July 25, Colonial Downs also announced that the condition book and stall application are now available at www.colonialdowns.com.
Racing will be conducted on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays during the meeting except for the final week when racing will be held on Monday, Sept. 2 (Labor Day) and again on Friday, Sept. 6 and Saturday, Sept. 7. Post time for all race days is 5 p.m. ET, except for the Sept. 2 card, which will begin with a 1 p.m. first post.
“As a native Virginian, it is exciting to be part of a strong team effort bringing racing back to Colonial Downs,” said Jill Byrne, Colonial Downs Vice President of Racing Operations. “We are dedicated to the horse racing industry and making a positive impact in all aspects of it. We've received so much interest and support from horsemen, patrons, media and industry leaders and look forward to providing a fantastic racing experience for everyone.”
“We are excited to welcome back horsemen to race at Colonial Downs with a highly competitive daily purse structure and comprehensive stakes schedule,” said Colonial Downs Racing Secretary Allison De Luca. “We offer a strong turf racing program with the widest grass course in the country that holds up extremely well to all weather conditions along with our 1 ¼ mile main track allowing us to provide a broad base of race options.”
The first Saturday of the meet, Aug. 10, will feature four stakes races on the turf course for Virginia-bred horses, with each race carrying a $100,000 purse. Those races are: the M. Tyson Gilpin for fillies and mares at 5 ½ furlongs; the Meadow Stable, also at 5 ½ furlongs; the Nellie Mae Cox for fillies and mares at one mile and the Edward P. Evans at one mile on the turf.
“Virginia's horsemen can't wait to start racing again at Colonial Downs after a five-year shutdown,” said Frank Petramalo, Executive Director of the Virginia Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (VHBPA). “New track management is great, the purses will be among the highest in the Mid-Atlantic, and Colonial's racing surfaces, especially its huge turf course, are world class.”
The following Saturday (Aug. 17), there will be two open stakes races slated: The $100,000 Chesapeake, to be run at six furlongs on the dirt and the $75,000 Da Hoss, at 5 ½ furlongs on the turf.
On Aug. 23, the $75,000 Old Nelson Starter Handicap to be run at 1 3/16 miles on the turf.
The Aug. 31 program, featuring the Virginia Derby (G3), to be run for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on turf. The outstanding all turf stakes lineup also includes the listed $150,000 Virginia Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles; the $100,000 TAA Kitten's Joy for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles and the $100,000 Rosie's, also for 2-year-olds, at 5 1 /2 furlongs.
Over the years, the Virginia Derby has been won by Eclipse Awards Champions Kitten's Joy, English Channel and Gio Ponti. Hall of Fame-trainer Bill Mott and Eclipse Award-winning trainer Dale Romans have each saddled three winners of the Virginia Derby.
“As a trainer who has had some very good days at Colonial Downs, I am very happy for horsemen, the new management and racing fans in Virginia that the track will be opening again this summer, especially at a facility that has one of the best turf courses anywhere in the country,” said Romans, who won the Virginia Derby with Kitten's Joy (2004), Paddy O'Prado (2010) and Silver Max (2012).
The 2019 Colonial Downs meet will close Sept. 7 with six stakes races totaling $550,000. Five of those events are Virginia-bred flat races and one is an open Steeplechase. There will be three races carded at 5 ½ furlongs on the turf: the $100,000 Jamestown for 2-year-olds; the $100,000 Punchline for 3-year-olds and up, and the $100,000 Camptown for fillies and mares. The two route races on the program will be the $100,000 Bert Allen at 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-olds and up, and the $100,000 Brookemeade for fillies and mares, also at 1 1/8 miles.
The $50,000 Randolph D. Rouse Steeplechase for fillies and mares will be run at 2 ¼ miles over national fences.
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