The recent Covid-19 pandemic certainly took its toll on the early spring Point-to-Point and sanctioned steeplechase meets scheduled in March, April and May, but as talk heats up about re-entry into a “new normal”, light can be seen at the end of the tunnel. Plenty of equine racing action is scheduled in the Commonwealth beginning in June and extending all the way through November. (As of May 1st, it is still unclear when we will be racing in Virginia again. Ongoing talks with the Administration will determine if the scheduled racing at Middleburg and The Gold Cup will be happen. If allowed to go forward both meets likely will be run without spectators. Updated information will be posted as soon as we receive it.)
The first sanctioned event on the revised slate is the Middleburg Spring Races, Virginia’s oldest steeplechase. Established in 1921, the 100th running will take place Saturday June 13 at Glenwood Park. Middleburg’s traditional spring date had been the third Saturday in April. Tickets and details are middleburgspringraces.com.
The 95th running of the Virginia Gold Cup Races follow two weeks later at Great Meadow in The Plains on Saturday June 27. Originally scheduled for May 2 in conjunction with the Kentucky Derby simulcast, the new date will not feature “Run for the Roses” betting since that has been pushed back to September 5. The Gold Cup traditionally has drawn 70,000 people at its annual spring renewal on the first Saturday in May. Tickets are on sale at vagoldcup.com.
A trio of Point-to-Point meets were cancelled — the Piedmont Fox Hounds, Orange County Hounds and Loudon Hunt — but three were rescheduled. The Middleburg Point-to-Point is now June 7 followed by the Old Dominion Hounds on September 12 and the Blue Ridge Hunt on September 19.
Pari-mutuel thoroughbred racing is back for a six week stand at Colonial Downs beginning July 23. The 18-day season will continue through August 29 every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 5:30 PM. In its “Racing Revival” comeback last summer, 90% of the races were contested over the Secretariat Turf Course, widest grass surface in the country. An annual controlled burn of the turf oval took place March 30. Virginia Derby Day, the annual season highlight, will close out the meet on the 29th and feature four grass stakes. In addition to the Grade 3 Derby, the Virginia Oaks, Kitten’s Joy and Rosie’s Stakes will be carded that evening.
Harness racing will return to the Shenandoah County Fair with four programs on September 2 – 5. The sport has a 100-plus year history at the Fairgrounds in Woodstock. The Shenandoah Downs pari-mutuel meet will follow at the same venue from September 18 – October 17. Racing will take place Fridays at 3:30 PM and Saturdays at 2 PM. A special card is also planned for Sunday October 4. The annual $300,000 Virginia Harness “Day of Champions” program will be held October 3.
A four-pack of sanctioned steeplechase events will round out the fall calendar. The Foxfield races, located just outside of Charlottesville, kick it off on Sunday October 4. Tickets and details are at foxfieldraces.com/fall. The Middleburg Fall races are up next on Saturday October 10 with the International Gold Cup card two weeks later on Saturday October 24. The Montpelier Hunt Races, located four miles west of the Town of Orange, close out the 2020 calendar on Saturday November 7. Tickets and more details are at montpelierraces.org.