Virginia’s Colonial Downs Purchase Official; “Our Industry Has Hope Again”

The following appeared in The Paulick Report April 26th.

Revolutionary Racing, together with partner Peninsula Pacific, today officially closed on the purchase of Colonial Downs, Virginia’s only horoughbred racing venue. The racetrack was purchased from its developer and long-time owner, Jacobs Entertainment, Inc. The purchase price was in excess of $20 million. The facility has been closed since 2014. Today’s purchase marks a major step toward bringing horse racing back to the Commonwealth, and is a direct result of the passage of HB 1609, a bill to allow for historical horse racing in Virginia, by the General Assembly during this past session.  Gov. Ralph Northam signed the bill into law on April 9.

Speaking about today’s purchase, Larry Lucas, chairman of Revolutionary Racing, noted: “We are thrilled to take yet another important step forward in the effort to help revitalize Virginia’s longstanding horse industry. This moment would not be possible without the proactive leadership shown by the General Assembly and Gov. Ralph Northam. A vibrant and successful Colonial Downs is critical to ensuring that horse racing can thrive and grow in the Commonwealth. Horse racing can be traced to the earliest years of the Colony of Virginia. And every Virginian takes great pride in this being the birthplace of Secretariat, the most famous horse to ever take the track. Now with this purchase we are well on our way to bringing back this historic industry.”

Prentice Salter, CEO of Revolutionary Racing, commented: “The return of horse racing to Virginia will mean the creation of new, good-paying jobs, the generation of much needed tax revenue for the state and localities, and a significant economic impact statewide. In a race, only one horse can come in first; but with the reopening of Colonial Downs, the entire Commonwealth will win.”

Colonial Downs last raced in 2014.

M Brent Stevens, chairman of Peninsula Pacific, remarked: “We are honored to be a part of the team that is bringing horse racing back to one of its oldest homes. I’d like to thank the members of the General Assembly for passing the legislation that has made this day possible; Gov. Ralph Northam for signing the bill and for his strong support for this industry; our partners at Revolutionary Racing and in the Virginia horse racing community and the seller, Jacobs Entertainment, Inc.  I have no doubt Colonial Downs will continue to be a Virginia landmark in the years ahead, and a facility that all Virginians will be proud of.”

Jonathan Swain, chief operating officer of JNB Gaming, said: “There is no reason Virginia cannot be a national leader in horse racing. The Commonwealth has the climate, the history, and the talent to be at the top of the sport. The reopening of Colonial Downs gets us closer to making this a reality, and we are looking forward to being involved in this effort as it moves forward.”

Debbie Easter, president of the Virginia Equine Alliance and executive director of the Virginia Thoroughbred Association, added: “Thousands of Virginians work in our horse racing industry. It is deeply embedded in the fabric of Virginia. Unfortunately, over the past years, this industry has faced tough times. In roughly two decades, Virginia Thoroughbreds went from running more than 2,300 races to just 333 by 2014. And our breeding numbers have also declined dramatically. Our horses are having to race out of state, and they are taking the money, the jobs and the opportunities with them. Now, with this purchase, made possible by HB 1609, our industry has hope again. Horse racing is coming back to Virginia. And we could not be more excited.”

A recent study by Richmond-based firm Chmura Economics and Analytics found that the reopening of Colonial Downs, achieved via revenue generated by historical horse racing, should lead to the creation of over 1,400 new jobs; have an annual economic impact of $349.1 million; and generate $41.6 million in annual state and local tax revenue.

Further details regarding the return of racing to Colonial Downs, including racing dates, will be released in the months ahead.