The Virginia Racing Commission voted today to deny the application submitted by Colonial Downs to hold nationally recognized Thoroughbred races in 2016. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the decision was made because “commissioners said the track displayed callous disregard for the industry when it surrendered its unlimited license last fall to run horse racing in Virginia.”
The Commission believes the divide in the Virginian racing industry perpetrated by Colonial Downs will not benefit the overall industry going forward. Colonial looked to have fewer racing dates two years ago, because it claimed to be losing money on live racing. When the Virginia Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association did not allow that, it led to a stalemate which ended in canceling races at the track in 2014.
D.G. Van Clief Jr., Vice Chairman of the Commission, said that “a bifurcated industry splits the revenue and the authority and that is exactly the wrong thing to do for the future growth if the survival of the industry.”
Colonial Downs' Stan Guidroz, Regional Vice President of Jacobs Entertainment, released the following statement:
“Of course, it is disappointing that the Virginia Racing Commission has denied our applications for 2016. The VRC has decided to support the HPBA's vision of low-end races that appeals only to their friends in Northern Virginia. The Commission could have chosen to support both our efforts to bring about high-end races at Colonial Downs and the HBPA's low-end races in the fields of Northern Virginia. However for political reasons it chose not to.
“As a businessman who has invested over $100 million dollars, blood, sweat and tears to move Virginia horseracing to major league status, I must say I have never been faced with such a hostile regulatory environment as this one. The members of the VRC are too close to the HBPA to allow them to look at Colonial Downs in a fair and impartial way,” stated Jeff Jacobs, CEO of Jacobs Entertainment (which owns Colonial Downs).
“Colonial Downs was sincerely hopeful about bringing the highest quality horse racing to Virginia. Given Colonial Downs' standing as the only venue in Virginia capable of hosting graded stakes races, we had hoped for the Commission to share in our vision to bring high-caliber racing events such as the Virginia Derby, Virginia Oaks, and the Colonial Turf Cup back to our track in New Kent by 2016. We have spent countless hours trying to find a way to make racing work but we have run into obstacles at every turn. We have enjoyed outstanding support from New Kent County over the years and look forward to working with them to explore alternative uses for our New Kent property which holds significant promise as a golf course development.”
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