The following is a release from Colonial Downs.
With the barn area opening just one week from today, July 25, anticipation is running high for 2019 Colonial Downs race meeting after a six-year hiatus of flat racing in Virginia, highlighted by the enthusiastic arrival of trainers across the Middle Atlantic, Northeast and Midwestern regions, and attracted by a strong purse structure of $500,000 per day and major capital improvements throughout the facility.
For its 15-day meeting beginning August 8, the Colonial Downs Group has executed wide-sweeping improvements and upgrades to the racetrack, including a new irrigation system for its world-renowned Secretariat turf course, renovations to the 1 ¼-mile dirt track, stable area and paddock, receiving and test barns and dormitories, new jockey’s room kitchen and the installation of a new tote board and video board.
Stabling capacity will accommodate approximately 700 stalls.
Among the many trainers who have committed to stalls for the upcoming meet are multiple graded-stakes winning conditioners John Servis, (Smarty Jones, Jaywalk), Brian Lynch (Oscar Performance, Heart to Heart, Grand Arch) Larry Rivelli (Cocked and Loaded, Wellabled) and Steve Klesaris (Diabolical, Sky Diva), as well as Ferris Allen, Alan Bedard, Gerald Brooks, Robert Bordis, Mike Campbell, Candy Courtemanche, Michael Ewing; Jack Fisher, Karen Godsey; Kenny Huffman, Lilli Kurtinecz, Chuck Lawrence, R.B. McCutcheon, Sarah Nagle, Joan Scott and Tom Vance.
Those not stabling at Colonial, but who have expressed interest in shipping horses to race are trainers Rusty Arnold, Chad Brown, Mark Casse, Arnaud Delacour, Shug McGaughey, H. Graham Motion, Jamie Ness, Dale Romans, Mike Stidham, Jonathan Thomas, Michael Trombetta, Todd Pletcher and Ian Wilkes, among others.
Along with the trainers, jockeys who plan on riding regularly at the meet include Adam Bishizza, Horacio Karamanos, who is the all-time leading jockey at Colonial Downs, Chuck Lopez, Feargal Lynch, Trevor McCarthy, Frankie Pennington, Ruben Silvera, Edwin Rivera and Erin Walker.
With Colonial Downs offering the highest jockey’s mount fee in the mid-Atlantic area, expect participation from top riders around the country.
“We are extremely excited by the level of interest from trainers coming in to stable from many locations, and the overall support we have received from the racing community as we approach the opening of our meet,” said Jill Byrne, Colonial Downs Vice President Racing Operations. “Our goal from the beginning has been to establish the highest standards in delivering a first-class racing and stabling environment for our horsemen by improving the basic structures of the facility and hiring experienced professionals from around the industry to ensure quality and integrity in our product.”
In addition to the minimum daily $500,000 purse structure, there will be added incentives for horsemen, including:
- Each owner will receive $1000 per start for any of its horses which do not earn $1000 in that race.
- Each trainer also will receive $300 for each time they start a horse.
- Colonial Downs will offer free horse transportation originating from Fair Hill Training Center.
In addition to Byrne, who ran the broadcasting division at Churchill Downs and most recently in the racing department at the Breeders’ Cup, the Colonial Downs racing office is led by Racing Secretary Allison De Luca, who also is Racing Secretary at Tampa Bay Downs, and Assistant Racing Secretary Sam Elliott. Carlos Garcia, a leading trainer in Maryland for many years, will be the Stall Superintendent. Also arriving from Tampa Bay Downs is Anthony “Spike” Ranno, the Starter and Dennis Petrucelli, the Clerk of Scales.
The highlight of the stakes calendar will be the $250,000 Virginia Derby (G3) and the $150,000 Fasig-Tipton Virginia Oaks for 3-year-old fillies, both on August 31.