Thoroughbred horse racing is back in Virginia. Colonial Downs, which originally opened on September 1, 1997 and then closed on October 14, 2014, is once again open for business with the newly named Secretariat Turf Course. Secretariat, who was born at Meadow Stable in Doswell, Va., in 1970, took the Triple Crown in 1973 when he won the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths. The industry recognizes the turf course as the best of its kind in North America.
Racing will run on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from August 8 through September 7 and will feature approximately $7.5 million in total purses. Gates open at 4 p.m. ET and post time for all race days is 5 p.m. ET. Families are welcome as free general admission will be open to everyone along with other options. General admission will provide apron access with track and paddock-side viewing, covered bench seating and access to the Paddock Bar and Homestretch Hospitality tent. Additionally, Colonial Downs will offer clubhouse dining, clubhouse boxes, turf club dining and turf club suites.
Colonial Downs is under new ownership by the Colonial Downs Group, a division of Peninsula Pacific Entertainment. The return of Colonial Downs is possible through the establishment of Historical Horse Racing (HHR) in Virginia by the General Assembly in 2018. Revenues generated through HHR at Rosie's Gaming Emporiums now open in New Kent, Vinton and Richmond, and soon to open in Hampton, are generating significant tax revenues for the state and localities but are also helping to fund purses at Colonial Downs and help revitalize Virginia's horse industry.
“Today's opening is the culmination of years of hard work and tremendous collaboration among Virginia's political leaders, equine industry and the more than 800 people who are now part of the Colonial Downs and Rosie's Gaming Emporium teams,” said Aaron Gomes, chief operating officer for Colonial Downs Group. “We are so proud of what we have accomplished, and we are literally just out of the gate in Virginia!”
Colonial Downs is a partner with the Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA) in the effort to bring thoroughbred racing back to the state. VEA and its member organizations will also share in the revenues generated through HHR and at Colonial Downs. “From the horse farm owners to the breeders, from the trainers to the suppliers of feed and horse tack, every facet of our industry is being impacted by the triumphant return of Colonial Downs,” stated Debbie Easter, VEA president. “This is a wonderful day for all of Virginia, but especially its horse industry.
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