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NEW KENT, VA – Officials of Colonial Downs Group, a subsidiary of Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, today announced that its 2020 Thoroughbred meeting would begin on Monday, July 27, with provisions for a limited number of spectators in attendance for the 18-day schedule.
This year’s meeting will be conducted on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, with first post time at 5:30 p.m. ET. The meeting will conclude on Wednesday, September 2. The former schedule has been changed from its original slate of July 23-August 29, with racing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. All races during the meeting will be televised on the TVG Network, with wagering available through TVG.com and other platforms.
Under conditions established in Virginia’s Phase 3 reopening plan, which allows for outdoor venues to cap attendance at 1000 spectators, Colonial Downs will plan the following protocols for the nightly meeting:
“With the advancement into Phase 3 of Virginia’s reopening plan, and guidance from state and local health authorities, we are anxious to offer this year’s race meeting with limited spectators in a safe and healthful fashion,” said John Marshall, Colonial Downs’ Executive Vice President of Operations. “As we continue to monitor the effects of Covid-19, our top priority this meet is protecting the health and safety of our guests, team and racing participants.”
Safety protocols may evolve leading up to and during the race meeting as directed by governmental officials.
Response from horsemen for the 2020 meeting has been especially strong nationwide, with 90 stall applications for more than 800 stalls received. Among those received are from horsemen based in Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New York and Virginia. The Colonial Downs stable area will open on Monday, July 13.
The daily purse distribution for this year’s meeting will be approximately $340,000 per program due to temporary closure of the four Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums and four VA-Horseplay OTBs since mid-March, which resulted in a reduction in historical horse racing and simulcast revenue. Rosie’s and four VA-Horseplay locations are currently open for simulcasting.
“Under these difficult circumstances, we couldn’t be happier with the enthusiastic response from our horsemen in the number of stall applications received for this month’s opening,” said Jill Byrne, Colonial Downs’ Vice President of Racing Operations. “Our stable area and dirt and turf courses received rave reviews from horsemen last season, and we look forward to hosting another successful race meet. We also feel our early week racing schedule will provide us with greater visibility to fans wagering around the country.
“We also thank the Virginia HPBA for their cooperation in working with us on adjustments to the purse program during this unprecedented period.”
Last year, under new management, Colonial Downs, which was conducting a race meeting for the first time since 2013, made sweeping improvements to the facility. Those enhancements included upgrades to the irrigation system for its world-renowned Secretariat turf course, renovations to the 1 1/4-mile dirt track, stable area and paddock, receiving and test barns and dormitories and a new jockeys’ room kitchen.
Last year, Colonial paid out $614,000 in owner incentive bonuses and $364,300 in trainer bonuses, and in 2020 these popular owner and trainer incentives are back. This year, each owner will receive an $800 per start for any of its horses which do not earn $800 in that race, and each trainer will receive $250 for each time they start a horse. In addition, Colonial Downs and the Virginia HBPA will each pledge a $15 donation for each starter to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA).
“On behalf of the Virginia horsemen, we are delighted to be back racing at Colonial Downs this summer,” said Frank Petramalo, Jr., Executive Director of the Virginia HBPA. “Last year, we got off to a great start, and we’re looking forward to building on that success, particularly since we have not had much opportunity to race in the Middle Atlantic during the first part of the season. As important, our horsemen are particularly pleased with the number of races written at the meet for Virginia-bred, Virginia-sired, and Virginia-certified horses, which support our local farms.”
The 2020 meet will be highlighted by the 18th running of the $200,000 Virginia Derby (G3) on turf for 3-year-olds and the $100,000 Virginia Oaks for 3-year-old fillies, both now held on Tuesday, September 1. Purses for both races have been reduced by $50,000 each. The $60,000 Rosie’s Stakes (2 YO, 5.5F) and $60,000 Kitten’s Joy Stakes (2 YO, 1 1/16 miles) will support the Virginia Derby night program. 2019 Rosie’s winner Four Wheel Drive went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2).
A total of eight stakes for Virginia-bred/sired horses will take place over two programs. The Camptown, Nellie Mae Cox and Edward P. Evans will all be contested Wednesday, July 29 while the M. Tyson Gilpin, Brookmeade, Bert Allen, Jamestown and Punch Line will be held on closing night, September 2. Purses for each will be $60,000 except for the Punch Line, which is $75,000.
A total of 18 overnight races have been dedicated as Virginia restricted, which are open to horses that are either Virginia-bred, sired or certified. Another three restricted overnights are listed as substitute races throughout the meet. Additionally, a four pack of $40,000 restricted handicaps are scheduled — the Van Clief (July 27), Miss Oceana (August 5), William M. Backer (August 5), and Quarter Path Road (August 12). A pair of $40,000 restricted stakes — the White Oak Farms and Hansel — complete that program and will be held July 28.
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